After Netflix’s Godless, Merritt Weaver should prove a strong choice for Mary Harron’s psychological exploration of the notorious Manson Family.

Ahead of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (and the obscurer The Haunting of Sharon Tate), IFC Films has released the trailer for its own film set around the era of the notorious Manson Family.

Directed by Mary Harron, the trailer for Charlie Says looks to continue the director’s well-documented interest in the psychology of murder in her previous films, American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol. Perhaps suitably, however, this trailer seems to dial back on the dark comedy.


Unlike Tarantino’s film (which takes place in 1969), Charlie Says is set years after the infamous Manson murders, and focuses on the three women who acted under Charles Manson’s influence as killers: Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten.

Merritt Wever plays curious grad student, Karlene Faith, who is sent to visit the three in California penitentiary, where they were sentenced to live out their days after the death penalty was abolished.

When she arrives, she finds that Manson’s indoctrination maintains its hold over the convicts, who are still convinced that they acted in service of a higher order. Slowly, Faith unpicks the damaging mentalities imposed by Manson on the three women, though – as its synopsis suggests – their rehabilitation requires them to come to terms with the disturbing reality of what they’ve done.  

While Matt Smith looks to give an expectedly creepy performance as the notorious Charles Manson, it goes without saying that Charlie Says will primarily centre on the psychological transformations of his three ex-Family members. Well known for her role as the happy-go-lucky Zoey Barkow in Nurse Jackie, Merritt Wever’s casting would’ve come off surprising without her absorbing performance in Netflix’s Godless. There, she delivered an Emmy-winning performance no-nonsense eighteenth-century matriarch, Maggie McNue, and as such her performance will likely be an asset to a film seeking to liberate three demonised subjects from the tyranny of Manson’s abuse.

Hannah Murray, meanwhile, is perhaps most known for her current role in Game of Thrones, whose perennial innocence as wildling Gilly suggests the actress could take the psychological experience of Leslie Van Houten to some very, very unnerving places in Charlie Says.

Charlie Says is scheduled for release in the USA on 10th May 2019, but it will arrive on streaming platforms on 17th May 2019.

Confirmed Cast

Hannah Murray – Leslie Van Houten

Sosie Bacon Patricia Krenwinkel

Marianne Rendón – Susan Atkins

Merritt Wever – Karlene Faith

Suki Waterhouse – Mary Brunner

Matt Smith – Charles Manson

Chace Crawford – Tex Watson

Grace Van Dien – Sharon Tate

Kayli Carter – Squeaky Fromme

Others include: Annabeth Gish, Bridger Zadina, India Ennega, Kimmy Shields, Lindsay Farris, Tracy Perez


Director: Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho, Alias Grace)

Writers: Guinevere Turner (screenplay), based on the book by Karlene Faith

Producers: Paige Barnett, Judith Black, Ryan Cassells, Aaron Collins, Dana Guerin, David Hillary, Paul A. Levin, Matthew Rhodes, Cindi Rice, Jeremy M. Rosen, John Frank Rosenblum, Liv Roush, Ed Sanders, Guinevere Turner

Release Details

Where to watch: In theatres in America, with online streaming to follow

When to watch: 10th May (theatres), 17th May (streaming)

Synopsis: “Three young women were sentenced to death in the infamous Manson murder case, but when the death penalty was lifted, their sentence became life imprisonment. One young graduate student was sent in to teach them – and through her we witness their transformations as they face the reality of their horrific crimes.” (Guinevere Turner, IMDb)