The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019)

Unlike most movies about the Manson Family’s murders, this film’s primary concern is the victim. Not concern FOR the victim, mind you. Just the focus. An object on which to pin a clichéd slasher film.

After an effective credit sequence which juxtaposes recreated scenes of the crime with news reel footage, The Haunting of Sharon Tate flashes back one year earlier to an interview the actress apparently gave. She tells of a nightmare she recently had which is eerily similar to the crime scene we have just left. Flash forward to Sharon Tate now arriving at that location three days before the murders take place.

Over the next ninety minutes we are treated to every hackneyed trick to prompt a scare. Half-opened doors that need a good spray of WD-40; reflections that suddenly appear when a mirror is moved; running water that turns into blood; and damsels in distress wandering around a darkened house, seemingly incapable of finding the light switch. Even the noisy ice-maker gets a workout, all of which is accompanied by jolting music to underscore the fright.

And there are some frights to be had, but at the expense of using the real-life killings of a heavily pregnant woman and four of her acquaintances as a source for cheap thrills. There is no empathy for the victims, no attempt to elicit sympathy for their plight. Hilary Duff does nothing to suggest the actress she portrays while the others are mere pawns that exist for our amusement.

For all their musings about chance and fate, this movie was always destined to be a tacky exercise in exploitation.

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Film features no scene recreations.

Steven Parent was not the caretaker, but rather a friend of his.

Movie opens with Sharon Tate being asked if she has ever had a psychic experience, as she had by Dick Kleiner. Yet the movie differs in a number of key details of her response and what Kleiner reported in Fate Magazine’s May 1970 edition -

The Haunting of Sharon Tate

  • The dream occurred after Tate married Roman Polanksi and was living in the house where the murders were committed.

  • Lists previous occupants of the house as Lillian Gish, Cary Grant, Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen.

  • Doesn’t describes vision of man, but is depicted a looking like Charles Manson.

  • Followed man down into the living room where she saw two people tied to the rafters in the ceiling. As she moved closer she could tell that it was both Jay Sebring and herself with their throats cut.

Fate Magazine

  • The dream occurred when Tate was dating Jay Sebring and staying over at his house

  • Lists previous occupants of the house as Jean Harlow and her husband Paul Bern, who committed suicide there.

  • Describes vision of man as looking like Paul Bern.

  • Rushed past man to see someone tied to the staircase with their throat cut. Couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman but somehow that it was either Jay Sebring or herself.

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