Haunted Honeymoon

Film Review: Manson, My name is Evil (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

Perry, a sheltered chemical engineer, falls in love with Leslie, a former homecoming princess, when he becomes a jury member at her hippie death cult murder trial

REVIEW:

“Manson, my name is Evil” is a curious title as when the end credits rolled by they listed the film as “Leslie, My name is Evil”. I say this because, this actually is more inline with what the story is about. Sure it’s rehashed alot of the known exploits of Manson and his family and how they murdered innocents…however the film is clearly centered around Leslie and how she went from a simple church going student to the cold blooded killer that she was put on trial for. The movie has lot of style.¬† In fact the level of 50’s look and feel mixed with a duller color tone really helps sell the believability of what the film is trying to achieve and the era of the times.

To further cement that idea, we¬†are taken back to the views and morals of the society as it was.¬†Perry brings an additional contrast,¬†who was the youngest of the jurors for the Manson family trial.¬†¬†His perspective¬† has him experiencing ¬†life much in the same way¬†from that time from a different upbringing. Though his perspective¬†is as a student facing potentially going off to war¬†in a time of innocence, high religious values and a stern Leave it to Beaver-father who expected his views to reflect on¬†him. Leslie, who also could have led down that path falls prey to the hippy lifestyle which intimately leads her to Manson and his influences. Much of this is known thru the trials and the reports of the girls who¬†gave themselves to Mansons control and biddings. Manson is presented at times as a Jesus figure who in fact is just the opposite. Though his first appearance is presented as a messiah hanging on a cross and preaching his word to his disciples. So the underlying theme throughout the film is this contrast of perspectives and imagery mixed with young lust, doing the right thing, releasing one’s inhibitions and dealing with a paranoid way of thinking that some were willing to abandon and take the road led by Manson.

Directed by Reginald Harkema, the film stars Kristen Hager playing the role of Leslie. Leslie was sentenced in the Manson murders, but is also portrayed as a controversial figure dealing with her actions on one hand and a former persona on the other. The case tries to prove that she was programmed and manipulated by Manson in a way that was influenced by drugs and peer pressure.

Ryan Robbins plays Manson in this film which for once actually somewhat takes a backseat to the intention of the film. This intention was to symbolize and sympathize with the Leslie character who we see transformed by her peers and who could of very well chose the road not taken preventing her fro the life she ended up living. The role is based on real accounts of Leslie Van Houten who was sentenced to death. Much of her biography is played out in the film which takes a cultish and lighter approach to the age. While there is still plenty of sex, murder and drug play in the film, it doesn’t use that as a primary focus as other films on Manson have. Kristen Hager gives a powerful but passive aggressive performance that clearly puts her on the forefront of this film. “Manson, my name is evil” provides a visually rich stylistic approach to on of histrory dark tales.

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