Most movies that attempt to tell the tale of Helter Skelter make one simple mistake. They present Charles Manson as some sort of circus act, a twisted freakshow completely out of his mind. This slapstick persona would not gain the power and influence over a plethora of rejected youth like the real Manson did. Step forward Ryan Kiser, giving perhaps the most authentic portrayal of Manson ever seen on film. There are times when you forget the horrors to come, with Charlie talking himself up to Terry Melcher and trying to get a record deal. At other times, Kiser manages to produce a chilling Jesus-like portrayal and you can see why suddenly these thrown away by society kids are promising that they would die for him. Kiser is bewitching and mesmerising throughout, just as the character needs to be.
Yet there is another great breakout performance here – Devanny Pinn playing Susan Atkins is a hive of beauty and menace, when her eyes glow with excitement at the carnage to come you can’t look away, even when Helter Skelter begins its journey. She is stunning, in the jailhouse scenes, you are afraid to breathe wondering if she is going to just flip out and cause chaos, it is a piece of magic that should see her becoming one of the top scream queens of the coming years.
When the inevitable Cielo Drive scenes arrive they do not shy away from the horror, but it is not highly produced murder scenes that we normally see. The way the cameras weave in and out of the stabbing and lynching, it makes you a part of The Family, unable to escape the massacre of Tate and company. Anyone thinking that the film might glamourise the tale will soon think otherwise as the famous picture of LaBianca with a fork sticking out of his stomach is grimly replicated.
House Of Manson (known as simply ‘Manson’ here in the UK) is a great warning from history of what can happen when people worship a false god and is a great retelling of the death of the sixties.