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Haunted House Horror “Winchester” Fails to Impress

Famed actress Helen Mirren’s latest movie is mediocre at best

A+picture+of+the+real+Winchester+Mystery+House+in+San+Jose.+The+house+has+been+a+popular+tourist+attraction+since+1922%2C+when+Sarah+Winchester+died.
A picture of the real Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The house has been a popular tourist attraction since 1922, when Sarah Winchester died.

A picture of the real Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The house has been a popular tourist attraction since 1922, when Sarah Winchester died.

Photo by Pixabay/Public Domain

Photo by Pixabay/Public Domain

A picture of the real Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The house has been a popular tourist attraction since 1922, when Sarah Winchester died.

Natalie Pearson, Staff Reporter

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“Winchester” is the most recent movie from twin directors Michael and Peter Spierig, who also directed movies such as “Daybreakers” and “Undead.” Truth be told, I didn’t expect much walking into the theater, and I was not surprised. That’s not to say that it was awful—it wasn’t. It was average and easily forgettable.

The film takes place in the year 1906, wherein Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) is called upon by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to assess the health of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren). Sarah has a majority stake in the company since her husband’s death 25 years ago, but has spent most of her time expanding or rebuilding her manor, under the belief that spirits are telling her to.

The hook here is that it’s inspired by the legends of the Winchester Mystery House, which is a real place and considered one of the most haunted places in America. Sarah Winchester was real, also, and did build upon her manor until her death in 1922 because she actually believed that ghosts wanted her to do it.

It’s obvious that these “ghosts” aren’t real, but what if they were? This is the question that the Spierig Brothers posed when creating “Winchester.”

This setup promised an interesting approach to the usual haunted-house tropes but ultimately fell flat when paired with stale writing and cheap jump-scares. I admit, the Spierig Brothers are excellent at building tension, but squandered every opportunity in favor of cliches.

The characters felt one-dimensional, defined by archetypes or tragic backstories rather than complex personalities. This could be chalked up to the script rather than the actors’ performances. In fact, Jason Clarke and Helen Mirren outshone the movie as a whole, doing their best with what they were given. It truly showed their versatility as actors.

Meanwhile, the supporting characters Marian Marriott (Sarah Snook) and Henry Marriott (Finn Scicluna-O’Prey) are relegated to the roles of mother in distress and child that gets possessed by demons, respectively. They don’t add anything to their characters, and their performances were dry and uninspiring.

Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy any of the scenes they were in.

Even so, perhaps the most disappointing thing about “Winchester” is that although the Winchester Mystery House is a real place, they didn’t delve into its history. We hardly see any of the actual house and in my opinion it was an opportunity wasted.

And that’s exactly what this movie is: an opportunity wasted. The Spierig Brothers could have turned this into an amazing thriller and instead made a competent but unremarkable feature.

“Winchester” was bland, and failed to leave a strong impression, good or bad. I felt indifferent to the characters and what happened around them. To put it simply, it’s not a masterpiece, but it’s not terrible. “Winchester” is just plain mediocre.

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Natalie Pearson - Staff Reporter

Natalie became a member of The Flightline in August of 2017. She is a sophomore this year involved in band at Skutt Catholic and enjoys playing video games outside of school. You can email her at [email protected]

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Haunted House Horror “Winchester” Fails to Impress