The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

Charlie Says

From American Psycho director Mary Harron comes new IFC release Charlie Says, based on the life and crimes of murderous cult leader Charles Manson (Matt Smith) and the three women who killed for him – Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon), and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón)—Charlie Says is a crime-drama about The Manson Family, who rose to notoriety after a series of gruesome murders, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

Along with Manson, the three women find themselves sentenced to death after a high-profile series of gruesome murders, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate – but soon after, they’re sentences are reduced to life with the possibility of parole after California discontinued the state’s death penalty. The film focuses on the trio of women’s rehabilitation at the hands of a graduate student, Karlene Faith (Merritt Wever), who believes she can break down their psychological attachment to Manson, and get them to recognize the heinousness of their crimes.

Directed by Mary Harron and written by Guinevere Turner, re-teaming from their American Psycho collaboration to now bring the cult of Helter Skelter to life, Charlie Says offers insight into the minds of those who committed those shocking crimes in the summer of ’69.

“What makes Charlie Says so original is its perspective and its willingness to depict the banality and absurdity of life with Manson, rather than simply to portray him as the quintessence of evil.” – Geoffrey Macnab, Independent 

“Charlie Says is absorbing if only intermittently effective, but it has the distinction of bringing a female gaze to arguably the most notorious crime spree in American history.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“This is an innovative, occasionally provocative, often frustrating film, but one whose perspectives on guilt and victimhood offer a new angle on a notorious case.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph