“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.
“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
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
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
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.
“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.
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?
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
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.
“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.