It was immediately apparent to anyone paying attention who Evan Rachel Wood‘s alleged abuser was when she became an activist working to extend the statute of limitations for reporting sexual assault. Marilyn Manson and Ms. Wood had been involved since 2006 (she was 18, he was 37), and near the end of their turbulent union, he publicly said very disturbing things about wanting to kill her. In Phoenix Rising, the HBO MAX documentary that details her fight, she tells how Manson, groomed, love bombed, and physically abused her. The details are chilling.
If you’ve ever been a fan of Manson’s music or image, this film might be difficult to watch. Perhaps even more so than hearing the sordid details of Johnny Depp‘s alcohol and drug-fueled rages that lead to the alleged physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of Amber Heard. Regardless of internet chatter, anyone who has been abused sexually or through any abusive relationship, in general, may need to be cautious when watching this. The subject matter is very traumatic,
Wood shares in uncensored detail, not only what she went through in her relationship, including being raped on screen in Manson’s video for Heart Shaped Glasses, but the aftermath too – going back to her abuser, processing and accepting what happened, and fighting for accountability.
Part two covers how Wood garnered the courage to name Manson as the perpetrator of all the terrible acts she’s detailed in her fight and calling out the manipulations of a man who made shock rock his brand to the degree it was sometimes difficult to determine whether the depravity was really happening, or if it was some sort of performance art. Rolling Stone determined it was the former with their creepy and eye-opening profile of Manson in which not one but three different women all told the same story about the shock rocker – a story that began each time with “a cramped glass recording booth” that he’d converted into what they and others who worked with him “now describe as a solitary-confinement cell used to psychologically torture women. They say Warner frequently banished his girlfriends there, keeping them inside for hours on end to punish them for the tiniest perceived transgressions. He called it the “Bad Girls’ Room.”
The magazine – and Phoenix Rising – both weave a terrifying narrative about Manson and his abusive proclivities.
Wood’s sincerity and Manson’s autobiography combine to make a powerful case for a rethinking of Manson’s on-stage and off-stage actions in this well-constructed documentary. He has denied the claims made in the film and has filed a defamation lawsuit against Wood which has not yet moved forward but, given the success of the recent Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial and the blueprint Depp’s lawyers left for him, we expect it any time now. The well-documented and coordinated smear campaign that still torments Ms. Heard has already been re-engineered and pointed Wood’s way.