Winchester is a 2018 horror film directed by Michael and Peter Spierig about an old widow named Sarah Winchester who following the death her husband decides to build herself a house and continuously adding to it at all times. After some strange occurrences in her home and some tall tales that have spread about her well being a man named Dr. Price is hired to assess her sanity and assure if she is fit to own part of the company that her husband left behind. She believes that the house is being haunted by people who were killed by the guns her late husband create and must therefore create a room for every person who died at the hands of the aforementioned weapon. The film stars Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snooke, and Angus Sampson.
As a big fan of horror some of my favorites have to do with hauntings. I love the idea that there could be supernatural things occurring in a house and using that as a foundation for a movie. If it is utilizes well it can shake you to your core or leave you quite unsatisfied as is the result of many modern day horror films that only use loud noises and sudden shot changes as a tactic to scare the audience. This film does attempt to put a story in place so as not to just to do that exact “jump-scare” tactic, but does not always succeed on its attempts. The story itself is quite interesting and could have been done much better in my opinion but executes it in such a mundane manner. The entire second act of the movie drags on for what feels like forever despite it’s hour and forty minute run time.
The performances in this movie are really as great as they can be, I really did not expect to ever see Jason Clarke in a horror movie but I suppose it was bound to happen sometime. He really does give everything he can in this movie and it’s quite noticeable as he can make some of the cheesiest and dumbest dialogue choices sound somewhat alright and watchable. I really honestly think the pay Helen Mirren got for this movie must have been insane because holy shit, this movie did not need her or Jason Clarke AT ALL. Any scene that she is in honestly really feels like they’re using her as a medium for some of the ghosts in this movie and when she isn’t the medium she’s only useful for dialogue to pace the movie with the scares.
As for the scares, (yes this is a horror movie, the horror and it’s effectiveness must be mentioned). There is no scares, no real ones anyway. They’re all quite predictable and you can almost quite literally count them down as you begin to see something ominous or hear a sound that is something the main character probably shouldn’t go through but they do anyway because that’s how the logic in horror movies work. There’s a “plot twist” somewhat towards the end of this film that is a huge knock off of a widely known Shyamalan film that I’m sure everyone will recognize immediately upon seeing it.
As you reach the end of the film there was something that really bothered me like no other and that was something I like to call ” The Lois Lane Factor”, for those who aren’t familiar let me explain. In the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice there was a giant action sequence towards the end where there is Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all fighting a character named Doomsday. This scene gives us the most climactic sequence in the entire movie and yet all while it is happening it constantly is cutting back to Lois Lane in trouble every other minute. Now that it is explained the Lois Lane Factor in this movie is a character played by Sarah Snooke and her young son, they do absolutely nothing to further the plot but during what is supposed to be the most climactic sequence in the film is constantly cutting back to her and her son which annoyed me to no end.
Overall, this is a movie that could have been really great and scary but wasn’t . Performances are decent and the story could have been written better. Some characters further the plot, and some don’t. There is a lot of scenes that are not needed. It was quite boring and there is no real horror carried in it but some cheap scares. I give Winchester a 4/10.
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