As The Haunting of Sharon Tate begins, the titular character (Hilary Duff) relates to an unseen interviewer that she has been having visions of her own demise…and we just know how this is going to go…because, you know, that shit actually happened…well, maybe not the visions…anyway…
So long story short; Tate and her pals stylist Jay Sebring (Jonathan Bennett), coffee heiress Abigail Folger (Lydia Hearst), and European Lothario Wojciech Frykowski (Pawel Szajda)…but not Tate’s husband; world class pedo and philanderer Roman Polanski…take up residence at a rented home where they shoot the shit, play some occult board game (which looks totally rad as all fuck bee tee dubs), and get menaced superficially by some weirdos…well superficially at first, because we all know that Chuck Manson and the fam are going to be turning up the heat and the murder biz right quick!
The bottom line with a flick like this is; just how tacky will the production be? I mean, you have a pregnant woman and her unborn child murdered in cold blood by notoriously insane fuck wits…all true events, so some sensitivity is kinda the way to go. Well, it’s a mixed bag here.
Duff (who also produced the picture) is solid at portraying Tate as a well-rounded, extremely sad, and slightly naive individual that finds herself in the most horrifying situation imaginable. That’s the good…well, that and the strength of the rest of the cast, and the solid cinematography courtesy of Carlo Rinaldi.
As the pendulum swings the other way, we get jump scares, evil voices on cassette tape, philosophical ponderings…and of course the inevitable bloodshed. All of this is handled with aplomb to be sure, but some of the more straight-up fright flick tropes seem a bit out of place in a film that functions primarily about the melancholy life of a starlet married to a pig and her hanger-on pals that seem content to drain her good will like squatter vampires. It’s a strange dichotomy, and not always successful, but Writer/Director Daniel Farrands does an admirable job doing a tricky balancing act.
Ultimately The Haunting of Sharon Tate is an engaging, if tonally flawed and disturbing, fright flick experience. The cast is solid, and the actual events, while presented for entertainment, aren’t totally exploited either. If you dig on true crime, there are worse options, and I’m sure with Tarantino’s upcoming take on the material interest in this one will be rather high, so in the end I’d give it a recommendation.