Director: John Gray
Starring: Jeremy Davies, Clea DuVall, Allison Smith, Eric Dane, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Based on the true story of the Manson murders.
Charles Manson was the leader of a “family” of abandoned young people who shocked the world by going on a murder spree that might be responsible for so much as 35 murders. The trial that followed is perhaps the biggest and most fascinating trial that has ever happened in America. Here is the story of the “family” and the heinous acts they did.
Helter Skelter is a new TV movie made 28 years after the first TV movie with the same name. This one is marked as a remake, but it really isn’t. While the original was based on the book by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, this one certainly is not (although they got story credits here). While the old one focused on the law & order part of the story, this one focuses more on the Manson family and the violent acts they did.
John Gray directed this one and he went for a very cinematic look. The scenes look stylish and slick, but also takes away any type of realism from the movie. I would have prefered a more stripped and bare type of look that would make it seem more real since the story is based from reality. They also failed in giving this a 70’s look, if they even tried for it. All the camera effects might have worked in other movies, but seem unnecessary here and brings the movie down.
Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan, Dogville) played the part of Charles Manson. He is portrayed as a very evil, rambling and sadistic person here. Davies does a good job, but in some scenes he goes way overboard. Linda Kasabian, here played by Clea DuVall (She’s All That, Ghosts of Mars), is portrayed as a good hearted woman who ends up in the wrong crowd. I dislike the black and white type of portrayals in films that are based in reality. I find it just so hard to believe that one person is very good hearted while all the others are mean spirited maniacs. The rest of the acting by the “family” is ok, but the smaller parts such as the victims are very poorly done and miscast.
The music in the movie is done by Mark Snow and the first thing I noticed is that one of the scores sound exactly the same as the “theme” of the X-Files episode Tooms and Squeeze. It seemed so out of place, just like the rest of the music and sounds.
This version of Helter Skelter doesn’t add anything worthwhile to the fascinating Manson story. It’s a bit tacky, boring and would only be entertaining to people who are very fascinated by Charles Manson.