The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019)

My whole life has been decided by fate. I think something more powerful than we are decides our fates for us. I know one thing — I’ve never planned anything that ever happened to me“- the actual Sharon Tate.

Hillary Duff stars in The Haunting of Sharon Tate where she plays the title character Sharon Tate, the most famous victim of the Manson Family’s two massacres. The movie focuses on actress Sharon Tate and her friends as she is being plagued by visions of her imminent death, which is supposedly based off an actual premonition she had. The movie has been attacked by Sharon’s surviving sister Debra as exploitative and critically lambasted.

The movie doesn’t really deserve all the flack it’s been getting. It’s a perfectly fine and serviceable movie that I’d recommend seeing if you’re curious. Spoilers below the cut.

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“Therefore this is what the Lord says: I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.” – Jeremiah 11:11


The movie Us opens on a scene in the year 1986 with a young girl and her parents at the Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. She ends up separating from her parents to walk out on the empty beach. Her eyes find an attraction that is on the beach, and she walks into what looks like an abandoned maze of mirrors. In the maze, she discovers something deeply terrifying – her doppelganger. After the opening scene, the movie shifts to the present day where the Wilson family is heading to their vacation home. The little girl from the opening scene has now grown up and a mother, Adelaide, who is nervous about returning to the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Gabe, her husband, found her reaction to be overexaggerated, but ultimately tries to help her feel at ease so they can take their kids Zora and Jason to the beach to meet up with some old friends. After one small scare and a number of bizarre coincidences on the beach, the Wilson family returns home for a quiet night in. However, the quiet night in quickly turns into a night of horror as they are terrorized by some unlikely trespassers that lined up across their driveway: doppelgangers of their family.


There are a number of things that I enjoyed about this movie. First, I thoroughly appreciate that this movie allows for there to be multiple interpretations of what the movie symbolizes. Second, I thought the casting choices were superb. Jordan Peele had Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Anna Diop, and Evan Alex casted as the Wilson family members. All of them did an excellent job playing both their main character and their doppelgangers.

As pointed out, the acting in this movie is quite good. Lupita Nyong’o, who plays both Adelaide Wilson and her doppelganger Red, flawlessly sells the complex nature of both of her roles. The doubles actually maintain a lot of the character traits of the originals and all of the actors manage to convey this without speaking for the most part and in such a manner that the clones have this subtly off-kilter manner to them that is disconcerting.

The movie has plenty of humor to it, most of which ties into the great depiction of the central family unit. The Wilsons are a close and supportive family that does not get dragged down by the thinly-veiled contempt a lot of movie families have for each other. They are all quite capable, with the father managing to dispatch his double while suffering from a broken knee.

The most obvious reading of the movie is as a metaphor for the “two Americas” with the doubles representing the “forgotten” people of America such as the homeless and disenfranchised and the “originals” being people who they very well could have been. The only thing that separates them are factors outside of their control, in this the “accident of birth”. Those who live in privilege, the originals, have just a general lack of curiosity about the existence of these people. In some cases, such as the twist of the movie, there can often be this sentiment of “I can’t change this and reflecting on it causes me distressed, so I’ll just try to ignore it.” But one day, the reckoning will come.

My biggest issue with this movie arises from the nature of these doppelgangers. It is revealed that they were created decades ago as part of a government project to control people living on the surface because their souls are linked but their bodies are not. This program fell through and was abandoned with the doubles left to live an empty, tormented existence, living a mirrored life of their originals. I was confused about the logistics of it: does the copy control the original or the original control the copy? Under what circumstances, because they aren’t always moving in sync?

It’s quite likely that I will gain further insight and answers to my questions upon a re-watch. This is a smart, suspenseful, and entertaining horror movie, destined to become a classic.

Last House on Dead End Street (1977)

“Any attempt to trace the names behind Last House on Dead End Street will lead no further than the credits themselves, all obviously false.”- David Kerekes 1995.

Last House on Dead End Street is a notorious independent film directed by and starring Roger Watkins. Its notoriety is derived from the fact that it tells the story of an ex-con (Watkins) who starts making snuff films with a small crew. The film’s premise combined with the cast and crew waiting over two decades after the film’s release to come forward about it led to the urban legend that the murders depicted actually occurred.

This movie is not good but it’s not entirely the fault of the film-makers.

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The Prodigy

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Talulah always knew there was something wrong with the boy. It’s part of their nature to have a nose for that sort of things. The boy’s parents are considerably slower on the revelation. To be fair, it is not their fault. Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and John (Peter Mooney) love their son, 8-year-old Miles (Jackson Robert Scott), as much as any parent would. Not many parenting books can unpack the risks of a child’s body being shared by a deceased serial killer, let alone provide a step-by-step guide to help the child in that situation. So naturally, they were not too concerned when Miles spoke Hungarian in his sleep, which they initially thought it as gibberish, or when he started asking for paprika on all of his meals. It is not their fault that a serial killer died at the same moment their baby was born.

Miles eventually beat a classmate to death with a wrench, which is more concerning to his parents. Still, nothing that a good psychologist and some loving, and caring parents can’t fix, right? Wrong.

Talulah knows better – she can sense the evil presence in Mile’s body. She consistently growls when that “other thing” is near. She stares at the boy out of suspicion. Too bad that Talulah cannot tell her parents about Miles and the evil presence. Too bad she cannot help Sarah and John see what is going on with Miles.

Too bad that Miles found that pair of garden sheers, too.

Clear direction and moody, effective cinematography cannot not quite rescue this horror movie from some confounding clichés that were present throughout the movie. The Prodigy mistakenly lead views to think that the movie will go above the genre when the parents realize relatively early on that there is something not right with their son. However, they then proceed to make nearly every bad choice to enable the horror to progress forward. The reason this is an issue is because the movie’s story is not exactly original. I would say that the movie fits into the Bad Seed horror subgenre well. It is right next to the movie Orphan, and many others, albeit with some hiccups of their own. To say that those clichés make it an original movie would be like giving credit to Vanilla Ice for the song “Under Pressure”.

Please note the movie is not terrible as the director Nicholas McCarthy and cinematographer Bridger Nielson have worked together regularly, and it is obvious throughout the movie. The movie excels at having a seamless use of imagery that establishes the tone and conveys important information. However, I would say that the opening sequence reveals too much information, which leaves the audience to sit and wait for the evil presence to emerge from Miles. The way it is presented through thoughtful matching of images, shows promises. I would say that the movie’s atmospheres are soaking in dark and poisonous shadows. The performances of all the characters are solid throughout the movie. Schilling and Mooney are a believable couple that is facing something unimaginable and truly horrible. Scott’s performance is truly outstanding in the demanding role. Unfortunately, the character’s terrible decisions seem more forced for plot purposes than anything else. The decisions also make it nearly impossible for there to be tension or surprises. The movie also relies on jump scares a lot. It does delve into darker plot lines than most horror movies due, but it still is not anything different. 

However, in all fairness, the real reason I might have a worse opinion of the movie is because the dog dies.

Happy Death Day: 2U

“What exactly are you always looking for under that desk?”
-Tree on the approximately 20th repeat of that morning.

Happy Death Day: 2U is the sequel to 2016’s horror-comedy Happy Death Day. Both movies feature on Tree (Jessica Rothe), a college student who finds that she had become stuck in a time loop and keeps living the same day ad nasueam while there is a killer on the loose. This movie begins minutes before the end of the first movie. Most of the cast and crew of that first movie have returned for this movie

2U is a worthy sequel to the first movie that lives up to the promise of being something unique while maintaining the same tone. For best results in terms of the humor and Tree’s character beats, one should watch the original first.

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