Hot Take: Unnecessary “inspired by true events” tale which relies solely on the jump scare for 99 minutes to try and spook the audience. Another low budget horror disaster.
It seems like we’re subjected to a low budget horror flick on a monthly basis. In January, it was the latest installment into the Insidious series which had a great run at the box office despite lackluster reviews. February’s entry into the low budget horror genre was Winchester which had a lower budget, worse reviews and didn’t find quite the same success at the box office despite Helen Mirren being attached to the project based on true events that occurred at the Winchester Mansion in San Jose, California in 1906. Also starring Jason Clarke, the film does a great job of checking the boxes — jump scares, creepy kid, Lurch looking servants, creaky hallways, dark basements, powerful poltergeists — but fails to put together anything solid with what seems to be at least a story ripe for a nice scare.
Dr. Eric Price (Clarke) is hired by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to assess the mental state of Sarah Winchester (Mirren), the wife of the founder of the company who recently died leaving the company to his wife. Her mental state has come into question for building a massive mansion which is under construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the widow Winchester claiming to be in contact with ghosts who have died at the hands of Winchester firearms. Price is brought to the mysterious mansion and is immediately unnerved by jump scare after jump scare… errr… horrific visions. Winchester is more interested in Price than he would have expected which has to do with the fact that he had been shot with a Winchester firearms and pronounced dead for 3 minutes leaving Sarah with the idea that he would be connected to the house and the spirits within. Also at the house is one of Sarah’s relatives Marion Marriott (Sarah Snook) and Marion’s son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey) because these movies always need a creepy young kid who can be easily possessed by ghosts. Once a storyline is established, the rest of the film is filled with jump scare after jump scare which become less effective with each loud noise.
Even with Mirren and Clarke giving it their all (this never feels like a cash grab, actually), the glaringly tedious storyline and flimsy build up to a lackluster and predictable third act delivers a movie that will likely sit at the bottom of the 2018 movie list for some time. Okay, to be fair, Samson was worse but Winchester failed to even live up to the lowest of expectations. Even the most ardent horror fan will likely be disappointed in this haphazard effort.
You’ve been to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and feel like it’s worth seeing on the big screen.
You’ve fallen for these low budget horror film trailers before and you’re not getting fooled again!