19th-Century resting bitch face
You can tell it is the dead of winter when the only wide new release is a low-budget horror flick that would go over better if viewed late at night in one’s own home. “Based on true events,” Winchester purports to tell the story of the most haunted mansion in America, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. The home of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren, giving this movie more than it deserves), the widow of firearm mogul William Winchester, was purportedly worked on every hour of the day, every day of the week until her death in 1922.
In the movie, written by Tom Vaughan and rewritten by the directing duo of Michael and Peter Spierig (the brothers last helmed Saw reigniter Jigsaw), Sarah Winchester was constantly adding rooms to house the fallen victims of her family’s lethal product. The Winchester curse, as she calls it, claimed her husband and daughter; now, she must protect her niece, Marian Marriot (Sarah Snook) and great-nephew, Henry (Finn Scicluna-O'Prey), who becomes predictably possessed like the majority of youngsters in modern horror. It’s up to troubled doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke, who is way too chill to lead a wannabe terrorizer like this) to exorcise the house’s demons—or one particularly malevolent spirit, at the least.
Lit more brightly than a late-night show on Cinemax, Winchester wraps itself up too neatly, but is more pleasantly logical than most ghostly fare, and Mirren seriously sells even the silliest of this haunted-house hokum. Ultimately, the movie is too rote and unoriginal, but most damningly, it’s not too scary.