Charlie Says trailer

Charles Manson is having an unexpectedly busy year on the big screen. In addition to The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the infamous cult leader is also featured in Charlie Says. Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith plays Manson, but this film from American Psycho director Mary Harron isn’t about him. It’s about the Manson Girls – star-struck followers willing to kill because Manson told them to. Watch the Charlie Says trailer below.

Charlie Says Trailer

The specter of the Manson Family murders has lingered for decades, but for some inexplicable reason, 2019 seems to be the year films and TV shows devote extra focus to the man and his crimes. Both films Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Haunting of Sharon Tate devote screentime to Manson and his minions, as does the upcoming season of Netflix’s Mindhunter. And then there’s this film – Charlie Says.

Starring Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones, Skins), Suki Waterhouse (Assassination Nation), and Matt Smith (The Crown) as Manson, Charlie Says picks up years after the infamous murders happened and then jumps back to see how it all came about. Here’s a synopsis:

Years after the shocking murders that made the name Charles Manson synonymous with pure evil, the three women who killed for him — Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins — remain under the spell of the infamous cult leader. Confined to an isolated cellblock, the trio seem destined to live out the rest of their lives under the delusion that their crimes were part of a cosmic plan, until an empathetic graduate student attempts to rehabilitate them.

This approach is different than most other Manson-related movies, which usually only focus on the crimes themselves, and not the aftermath. Mary Harron, who helmed American Psycho and Alias Grace, is the director behind Charlie Says, with a script from frequent collaborator and American Psycho screenwriter Guinevere Turner. That’s an impressive amount of behind-the-scenes talent, but I’m not entirely sure about this. The trailer didn’t do much for me, and Smith’s Manson beard looks wonky. On top of that, the movie is sitting at 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll still give it a chance, though.

Charlie Says arrives May 17, 2019.

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