Winchester is a 2018 American horror film directed by The Spierig brothers and written by Tom Vaughn. It is set in the early 20th Century and centers on Sarah Winchester (Hellen Mirren); a aggrieved widow and heiress to a famed gun manufacturing company who after her husband’s passing, builds a gargantuan mansion that seems never-ending as a result of a superstition that she is cursed by the individuals who died at the hands of the Winchester firearms. Concerned about whether the widow could assume the reigns of her husband’s business, the Winchester Company hire Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) to psychologically evaluate the widow at her mansion.
Well, it’s yet another Haunted House; how fascinating. Coming out of this movie, I’m just left wondering how many more times Hollywood will keep on churning out horror films of this already cliché sub-genre; I’ll touch on more of this later on. Let’s delve into the cast performances first. Jason Clarke plays a quite inquisitive doctor in Eric Price; his character is innocent, professional and everything he goes through during his assignment in Madam Winchester’s residence, you’d feel, is undeserved. Hellen Mirren, as you would expect is exceptional. Her role as Sarah Winchester is one that elicits pity; she lost her husband as well as her child and the events that unfold afterward, though unimaginable, are a true testament to the effect that grief can have on people who befall it. Marion played by Sarah Snook is a character with considerable depth; being a close liaison of Madam Winchester, she has witnessed so many paranormal events in the cursed mansion which, in turn, have taken a great toll on her personality. She doesn’t smile often, she doesn’t respond well to humour and this is apparent mainly at the beginning of the film when she meets Dr. Price.
Seeing that this film is based on a true story, or perhaps a false one, depending on whether or not you find meaning in the existence of preternatural beings and events, the thought process of bringing this revered story to life is very conspicuous in the directing; the Spierig brothers did a rather acceptable job with this film. The shot angles are great, the jump-scares are quite authentic for an average movie watcher and the ultimate unsung hero of this movie, the period clothing, and visuals, are simply marvelous.
That said, let’s flip the coin on all this, shall we? There is an overdone narrative of jump-scares and predictable subplots that most horror films go for every now and then and personally, I’m not having it. Given their illustrious reputation for making horror flicks that include, among others, 2003’s Undead, The Spierig brothers most definitely did not hit the jackpot with this one; not at the very least. Another dreadful aspect of this film is the dialogue; lethargic in many ways with the exception of Madam Winchester of course, played beautifully by Mirren.
Taking everything into account, my hunch on what Winchester would eventually turn out to be as a horror film did not come to fruition. Considering The Spierig brothers past exploits, I expected more of certain aspects and less of certain other aspects as highlighted in this review.