A haunted, nearly 200 room, ever expanding mansion with a creepy old widow, all based on actual, real life events. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a great horror flick, right?
“Winchester”, written and directed by the Spierig Brothers, is a movie based on the haunted Winchester mansion in San Jose, Calif. The film follows Australian actor Jason Clarke, who’s character is so bland and one-dimensional, I didn’t even bother to learn his name during the movie (It’s Dr. Eric Price, according to IMDb).
Price is tasked to stay at the Winchester mansion to judge the sanity of Sarah Winchester, a grieving widow who’s inherited a boat load of cash played by Helen Mirren. After the death of Sarah’s husband, the Winchester in Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Sarah believes spirits of the victims of her husband’s guns are coming to haunt her. In an attempt to keep the ghosts out, she decided to put all her inheritance into never-ending construction of her home.
The horror aspect of the movie relies heavily on jump scares, making the movie less suspenseful and more predictable. Winchester also falls short on character development.
Besides Clarke’s and Mirren’s characters, no other character is really that important in this film. Although Mirren’s acting is great, and what honestly prevents this movie from being a total failure, she’s barely in it at all. This leaves Clarke to carry most of the the plot on his shoulders.
It’s not entirely Clarke’s fault his character is so boring, although he could’ve done a better job with the role. Dr. Price’s backstory is a late arrival in the movie, keeping the audience from connecting with the character. His introduction is poor and we’re left the majority of the movie wondering why in the world we’re supposed to be rooting for this guy. By the time we’re actually shown his dramatic backstory, we’ve already checked out and it’s just too late to even care.
Just like the Winchester house is described, this movie has “no apparent rhyme or reason” to it. I’d say save your money and watch a documentary about the Winchester mansion on YouTube or, better yet, go to San Jose and take a tour of the actual house instead.