Monday, 12 February 2018
By Brett Haynes 12/02/18
The Winchester Mansion is regarded as one of the most haunted houses in the world. It’s a maze of rooms that was constantly being added onto up until the death of Lady Winchester in the early 1900’s. It’s believed it holds the spirits of all those killed by the weapon designed by her husband William Winchester, the Winchester rifle. It sounds like the perfect idea for a horror film but unfortunately it’s far from perfect.
Directed by the Spierig brothers (whose previous work was last year Jigsaw) they have taken an interesting premise and watered it down to yet another typical haunted house film. Even when you have the likes of Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, a flimsy idea can only go so far.
Jason Clarke plays Doctor Eric Price, a psychiatrist hired by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co to evaluate the mental state of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren). She is the major shareholder of the company and they want to see if she is still stable enough to run the company. Price is hired to more or less say that she isn’t and from the outside the evidence isn’t in her favor. The Mansion is a maze of rooms and never ending construction, which makes anyone seem a little mad. Throw in the mention of ghost and you would believe its case closed.
For the audience we already know that the ghosts are real as we are shown one in the very first scene. The film has nowhere to go from there. We spend most of the time listening to Price trying to convince Sarah Winchester that its all in her head even though he constantly see’s them throughout the house. There is no creation of suspense in this film. The audience is always let off the hook way to easily by jump scares, which make up this movie.
The acting in this film is serviceable at best. Helen Mirren gives a fine performance as she tries to convince Price that the ghost are real but for the most part it just feels like she giving an exposition dump on all the supernatural going on in the house. Jason Clarke also does a fine job but he spends most of the film telling Lady Winchester she is insane which is never given any emotion to it. Surprisingly both actors give their best performance in the final third in two very different scenes where they are both allowed to show emotions.
As for this maze of a house, we never see more then three or four rooms so you never feel lost. If done well this could have been a disorienting experience but no, it just feels like walking around an ordinary house. The film isn’t terrifying or even is it remotely scary. It relies way to heavily on jump scares, which you can easily predict are coming. Apart from Mirren and Clarke everyone else is quite forgettable. Winchester may be the most haunted house in the world but it’s a pretty poor haunted house film.
Images owned by Screen Australia
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