Ray's Review: Winchester

posted by HFF Ray - 

Winchester

Many have heard the stories of the bizarre Winchester mansion. A house that was built by spirits and a widow who was haunted. The new film Winchester starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke take us inside the walls of the infamous house and on a hunt for the truth. Is Sarah Winchester crazy or is she actually a woman haunted by the ghosts of those killed by her rifles. The film centers around Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) who is hired by the Winchester board of directors to prove once and for all that Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) is not fit to run her late husbands company. When doctor Price arrives at the massive mansion he fears that they may just be right in their estimations. With round the clock construction being done on the home in the name of keeping vengeful spirits at bay it becomes easy to see how many can call Mrs. Winchester crazy. However, as the nights wear on Mr. Price soon learns not all ghost stories are childish games and there may be more to this house than meets the eye. 

It is always nice to see scary films get a release at any time of the year that isn't Halloween. It keeps the genre fresh and gives those who like horror films (like me) something to look forward to. This film has an interesting concept and is based loosely on a true story. The real Winchester home is based in San Jose, CA and it is every bit as bizarre as what we see in the film with Staircases that lead to nowhere and doors that open into total drop-offs. Many have said Sarah built the home this way to protect herself from evil spirits and the crazy design was used to confuse them. The continuous building offered her enough liberties to not have to sleep in the same bedroom two nights in a row so that the spirits could never find her. She was an interesting woman no doubt. In the film, Helen Mirren does a great job of taking on this quirky heiress. My biggest complaint? She really wasn't the main character in this story. I love Jason Clarke, but I don't know that his character was strong enough to really carry the film like it should have. I know hindsight is 20/20 but it seemed like the film would have had a much darker and deeper feel to it if we had been coming into this with Sarah Winchester as our main focus. In this film, she almost feels like supporting cast, which is a shame because Mirren is so talented and her skills could have definitely been used more here. 

As a horror film, this movie is okay. it is not a bad film, but it is not going to knock your socks off either. There is some pretty solid jump scares throughout the film that keeps things tense. However, I felt like the ending could have had more to it. I would say more but I don't want to spoil anything for you guys. Overall I had to score Winchester with a B-. Like I said this was an average horror film, but it could have used something more to make it a great one. If you are looking for a quick horror fix Winchester may be just what the doctor ordered, but I don't think it will sustain you for long.

Winchester hits theaters everywhere February 2nd. 

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