Audiences get the chance to see Hilary Duff (the original queen of Disney Channel, currently starring in TV's Younger) in a new light as she takes on her first horror role in the new indie film The Haunting of Sharon Tate. Duff gives a stunning portrayal of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, who in 1969 at 8 1/2 months pregnant to director Roman Polanski's child, she was savagely murdered by members of the Manson family. While the film offers an interesting re-enactment of the actual tragic events, it fails to hit the mark.
Writer & director Daniel Farrands takes creative licence with Sharon's story, claiming she had a ‘premonition' of her untimely death two years prior to its happening. A heavily pregnant Tate is plagued by these visions, as she tries to convince her friends that something terrible is about to happen and she's not completely crazy. Farrands offers us a version of what could have happened if Tate and co had fought back… Could she have changed her destiny?
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As the film wavers between indie fair and b-movie horror, it never quite reaches that horror intensity or provide a level entertainment that you hoped it would, instead it mediocrely plods along. Upon finally reaching its climactic third act, the pay-off falls rather short and inevitably leaves you underwhelmed. Furthermore film assumes the audience already know all the details of the infamous case going in, so much of the crucial details eludes us. Perhaps this is Farrands choice, giving his own interpretation of events but you won't come out feeling like you've learnt nothing new outside of a brief wikipedia summary… or had a particularly in-depth viewing experience for that matter.
Duff, also serves as an executive producer, bringing her own beauty and elegance to the role, as well as full on 00s nostalgia as fans will be pleased to see co-star Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls) as celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring. Fans of Duff or the true crime genre should check this out but it's not going to reach an audience that doesn't already have a vested interest in the film. It would be great to see Duff star as a final girl in a big budget witty horror film – she's the scream queen we never knew we needed.
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The Haunting of Sharon Tate is out on all major VOD platforms April 8th in the UK and out in select cinemas and VOD platforms April 5th in the US.
Words by Joel Babbington @dr_joelb.
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