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The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019)

Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/4/2019

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/1/2019

In today’s fast-paced news world, stories appear, dominate the news cycle for a period and then disappear, never to be heard from again.  How many times have you wondered what ultimately happened with a big story which suddenly disappeared?  Nothing seems to stay in the collective conscious anymore.  But, over the years, there have been some headlines that people can’t seem to relinquish.  One of the biggest is the Charles Manson murders.  Some fifty years after the fact, we still get documentaries and television specials which examine “The Family” and the atrocities which they committed.  After so many years of examining the facts, Director Daniel Farrands has decided to explore the fantasy side with The Haunting of Sharon Tate.


It’s 1969 and actress Sharon Tate (Hilary Duff) has returned home to Los Angeles after shooting a movie in Europe.  Heavily pregnant, she arrives at a house in the Hollywood hills, which she will be sharing with Abigail Folger (Lydia Hearst) and Wojciech Frykowski (Pawel Szajda).  She’s also getting support from her friend, Jay Sebring (Jonathan Bennett).  Sharon is glad to be home, but she’s anxious for her husband, Roman Polanski, to return as well.  When she learns that strangers have been coming to the house seeking the record producer who used to live in the house, Sharon begins to have nightmares about home invasions.  While her friends assure her that everything is fine, Sharon’s paranoia begins to grow.


Daniel Farrands will forever have a place in the heart of horror fans for his documentaries Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th.  These epic video essays provided an incredibly detailed overview of the respective film series and showed a true devotion to the craft.  (He’s also done some similar things in shorter form for Blu-ray extra features.)  So, it’s obvious that Farrands is a student of the genre.


But, if The Haunting of Sharon Tate is any indication, Farrands needs to stick to documentaries, as this movie is a mess.  As noted above, the story of Sharon Tate and the Charles Manson murders has been tackled many, many times before, in many different ways.  So, if Farrands was going to take a crack as this topic, he had better take a new approach.  And, to his credit, he does.  The idea of focusing on Tate and her rumored premonitions is an interesting one.  However, this approach only takes the movie so far, and it’s very repetitive – Sharon has a nightmare about people breaking into the house, tells her friends, they reassure her, Sharon has a nightmare…  The story never goes anywhere.  And when you take into consideration that a majority (hopefully) of the audience knows how this story ends, you realize that any attempts at building suspense are futile.  It’s clear that Farrands’ goal is for the viewer to yell at the screen, “Why won’t anyone list to Sharon?!  Get out of that house?!”  Instead, the viewer is yelling at whoever recommended this movie.


If your goal is to see a faux-pregnant Hilary Duff (who is also credited as an Executive Producer here) wandering around in a nighty or to see that guy from Mean Girls without a shirt, then The Haunting of Sharon Tate is for you.  Otherwise, you are going to be treated to a boring, redundant movie which takes one of the most brutal murders in American history and makes it shockingly mundane.  It’s possible that Duff got involved in this project to break away from her Disney Channel past, but this nearly toothless biopic may not have been the best choice.  The movie does portray the murders in a somewhat graphic fashion, but it all comes off as pedestrian.  As noted above, the story of Manson and his followers has been documented many, many times.  However, 50 years later, there are most likely many who aren’t familiar with Sharon Tate.  A movie which focuses on her and who she was would be welcomed.  This is not that movie.


The Haunting of Sharon Tate never explains how the phone in the mobile home works on Blu-Ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The level of detail is consistent and the depth works well.  The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The nightmare sequences provide noticeable surround sound effects, most notably when noises are heard in various part of the house.  The attack scenes deliver a mild amount of subwoofer action.


The Haunting of Sharon Tate Blu-ray Disc contains two extra features.  We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Daniel Farrands.  “Premonitions: The Haunting of Sharon Tate” (14 minutes) offers a lot of clips from the movie accompanied by interviews with the cast members, who talk about the themes and their characters.  (The audio on the interviews is not very good, as if the microphone wasn’t close enough.)

Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long