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Written By:

John Higgins


Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will see Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a screen actor and stunt double attempting to make a name for themselves around the time of ‘The Manson Murders’, in which five people, including the then-wife of director Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, were brutally murdered over the nights of August 8th and 9th, 1969. Coincidentally, Hilary Duff is a co-Executive Producer and lead actress in The Haunting of Sharon Tate, which will certainly stimulate additional interest in that time when a decade was undergoing transition in a stormy world.

Set over the days before and during the key event, Tate (Duff) is home at the LA residence she shares with then-husband Roman Polanski, fresh from her successful role in Valley of the Dolls, and preparing for the birth of their first child. However, the stresses of impending motherhood, as well as concerns over visitors to the house which have been allowed in by her friends staying with her, have begun to impact on her well-being. Soon, a very vivid and graphic psychological depiction of impending death and murder takes an all-too-real nightmarish hold on her psyche, which leads her to question her own sanity and future, coupled with reel-to-reel tapes that seem to have subliminal messages within them…

The film applies a traditional alternate timeline premise which has been used considerably over the years, but it does have a reasonable amount of promise within. If there is a flaw here, then it’s that the film has a tendency to relish in the more gory moments of what may or may not have happened on that fateful night, creating a standard home-invasion narrative, rather than aim for a more factual depiction like the best true-crime dramas of recent years on television. Ultimately, the film rises and falls on the strength of a strong central performance from Duff amidst some jarring moments of horror and violence.

John Higgins

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