The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a movie about fate. Tate, played by Hilary Duff, is kept awake at night by visions of her impending death. Just like the Haunting audience, Tate knows that her murder is inevitable. It happened years ago—a semi-random, terrible slaughter orchestrated by Charles Manson and his cult family. What Manson conceived of at the time as deliberate chaos is now just history—a horrible thing that happened because an evil person willed it into being. Sharon Tate’s death did not usher in the apocalypse, and Charles Manson died in prison. It’s a tragic, pointless story, and it’s the one that Sharon Tate will always be remembered for. The Haunting of Sharon Tate imagines a world in which the actress’s death, and therefore her legacy, was narrowly avoided, imbuing the star with the foresight and agency to predict and prevent her own murder.
Director Daniel Farrands’ conceit reportedly traces back to a tabloid’s claim that Tate had a premonition that she would die a full year before the Manson family invasion. The image of an ill-fated starlet plagued by visions of a disturbing future is a vivid one, but one that a basic sense of courtesy and propriety would prohibit most people from converting into a feature-length film. It’s a thought experiment best suited for private contemplation: a young Sharon Tate pregnant with premonition, bewildered and terrified, as a vision of Lizzie McGuire star Hilary Duff playing her in a poorly written 2019 snuff film flashes before her eyes.
Throughout the film, Tate repeatedly wonders if fate can be tampered with, or if we’re all “slaves to our own destiny.” The Haunting of Sharon Tate marks a fate so strange, unpredictable, and cruel that no one ever could have seen it coming—but someone probably could have, and should have, stopped it.
Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
BEST DEAL UPDATE: