Starring Ryan Kiser, Devanny Pinn, ERIN MARIE HOGAN
Directed by Brandon Slagle
Not since Helter Skelter aired WAY back in 1976 has there been such a chilling depiction of Charles Manson himself, and as we hop in the time machine and truck into 2015, Ryan Kiser’s performance as the prolific madman serves as a nice portrayal and, backed by a number of iron-clad supporting roles, make House of Manson one to ink in the record books as a film that drops you dead in the center of a psychedelic undertaking that robbed innocents of not only their lives, but their minds as well.
The film opts to shine a lot of light on Manson’s early years, right up to the infamous Tate-LaBianca slayings, and eventually Chuck’s final stop in prison, where he still resides to this day. What’s admirable about director Brandon Slagle’s pic is the amount of detail that he chose to go into revolving around “the family” – the illuminating Devanny Pinn is shockingly good as Susan Atkins, with a stare that could pierce through a concrete block and equal amounts of unbalanced emotion – her performance was easily one of the most memorable in the movie aside from Kiser, whom I’ll delve into in a bit. Sitting at the family’s dinner table is also Reid Warner as the completely nuts Charles “Tex” Watson – just watching news reports of this guy back in the day used to give me the heebie jeebies, and Warner did an admirable job of capturing the essence of a man who simply loved to kill. ERIN MARIE HOGAN’s outline as the completely brainwashed Linda Kasabian is not only spot-on, but disheartening to see just how someone’s words can cause a mind to fray – pretty creepy stuff.
I could blather on all day about the excess of stellar thespianism (not even close to being a word, but it sounds good) on display here, and even the role of the doomed Sharon Tate (Suzi Lorraine) is engaging to take in with your eyes. Despite knowing her ultimate fate, you still find yourself watching and hoping for a different outcome. Finally, we get to Uncle Charlie himself, and not since Steve Railsback peered into the camera back in 1976 with those deranged eyes have I been able to find a performance comparable to it – Mr. Railsback, say hello to Mr. Kiser. His ability to breathe life into the man behind such heinous actions was not only refreshing, but straight up frightening to witness. He not only took the lead, but it worked so well because he was simply a piece to a much bigger puzzle here – too many films have only focused on the man, not the engine working as a result of the brainpan behind it.
The film is informative, violent, shocking, and saddening – Slagle should be applauded for taking on a subject that’s been beaten to death and giving it a totally new perspective from the audience’s point of view. Overall, anyone who’s interested in the case should do themselves a giant solid and check this film out, and even if you’re not, watch it anyway and prepare to enter into a vortex of mental depravity… cause Charlie said so.