Monday, 17 June 2013
The Manson Family (2003).
Indie filmmaker Jim VanBebber brings us a movie that took fifteen years to complete, after financing failed to materialize again and again. It is a shockingly realistic ride into madness, psychedelia and murder, and portrays the Manson Family and their leader as cold blooded killers, refusing to shy away from any element of the events that happened. It works incredibly well, and is an very powerful piece of cinema.
In 1996, a TV personality is putting the finishing touches to a documentary about The Manson Family. His idea is to totally remove the focus away from Charles Manson, and lay the blame on his followers who he sees as the real evil. As he goes through the footage, we get to see Family members as they are today, telling the stories of what happened during the summer that lead up to the murders. There are also flashbacks of what really happened, whether it conflicts with the stories being given or reflects them. While this is happening, a gang of youths who don't want Manson or his families name dragged through the dirt prepare to kill the TV personality who is attempting to change everyone's opinion.
The movie really does take an incredibly serious look at the followers of Charles Manson, their hedonistic lifestyles and drug use. Everything builds to the infamous 'Tate murders', but the movie is so much more than exploitation. It is a sometimes beautiful, often ugly piece of cinema that attempts to put across the real Manson Family with no punches pulled. A great amount of focus seems to be put on Charles Manson himself in other movies, but here, VanBebber examines the family in great depth.
The narrative is complex, but VanBebber successfully juggles the story from one scene to the next without things becoming convoluted. It flows really well, from present day, to flashback, to reality, to drug addled fever dream. Everything comes together so well, and the movie is incredibly absorbing.Everything in the film works so well. Every story told adds to what has gone before, adding more dimension to the characters and the story. The direction is incredible, the acting very realistic and the soundtrack as fitting as it could possibly be.
The Manson Family will not be for everyone. But anyone willing to watch this movie will most definitely be surprised with how involving, chilling and realistic it is. It really is a horror film that reflects what was going on at the end of the sixties, and reflects those situations with an incredible clarity and honesty.