Based on the Winchester Mystery House, one of the most haunted mansions in North America, the film ‘Winchester’ directed by the Spierig Brothers is fairly entertaining but doesn’t have a compelling script to make it scary. It is more like a drama that is fun to watch but doesn’t have enough substance we usually look forward to a horror film.
The film has an interesting plotline derived from real character and place, but the makers never instill any originality, although we see an amazing performance by Helen Mirren as Mrs. Winchester. One key aspect missing from the film is that it never explores the story from the views of the title character but rather ventures into the point of view of a doctor.
Set in 1906, we see female heiress Sarah Winchester constantly overseeing the construction of her huge mansion as an atonement for the deaths caused by her late husband’s invention – the Winchester rifle. She believes that the house is inhabited by the spirits of those killed with rifles made by her firearm company.
Mrs. Winchester, after her husband and infant daughter’s death, lives in the mansion with her niece Marion Marriott and her son Henry. She has inherited a huge amount of money which she now spends on the ongoing construction of the house.
Meanwhile, the board of the Winchester Rifle company hires Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) to evaluate Mrs. Winchester’s psychological state and submit a report on whether or not she is able to manage the profitable company. Dr. Price, on the other hand, is coping with his personal loss with the death of his wife.
Initially, Dr. Price finds the mansion and the house rules set by Sarah Winchester a bit weird. As he begins to assess her, he soon started seeing ghosts but ignored believing that it’s some side effect of the drugs he takes on a daily basis. Later, such a supernatural vision continues away from his usual understanding, but he soon must accept the fact that there is more to reality than Winchster’s madness.
WINCHESTER – Trailer – Starring Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke
While the storyline could have been engaging, the direction of the Spierig Brothers was able to establish the characters very quickly. One more thing we might feel missing from the presentation is the haunted house itself. There is no effort to emphasize the architecture and history without any closer look at the layout. That could have intensified the scary nature.
The use of jump scares doesn’t add any value to an already thin story. While Mirren is amazing in her role, the film never focuses on her character or backstory. It is not about acting, rather too much effort was put on to create a spooky environment by focusing more on insipid visual effects and some absurd ghosts. Nevertheless, the key statement we find in the film is the anti-gun sentiment that has been a subject of discussion in American politics.
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