2018-03-29 09:01

What it's about:

On an isolated stretch of land 80 km outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it’s a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider, it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But, Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece, or for the brilliant Doctor Eric Price, whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison—an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts—and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters.

What we thought:

I don’t like movies that are just blood, gore, big scares and no story. I think it’s because I am one of those sensitive viewers who switch the channel as soon as a graphic warning comes on the screen. Just the other day a friend of mine was trying to show me pictures of a car accident – that she and her boyfriend had stopped at to assist with first aid – and I had to look away (don’t worry everyone involved survived); it was all just too much for me.

So, you’d think that my review of Winchester – a horror movie by all accounts – would be mostly negative. I mean most other people who have seen it, didn’t liked it, it only has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But the fact is, I didn’t hate it. It is about more than big scares and moments that eerily creep up on you, but please be aware that there are plenty of moments like that, so if you hate that type of thing, stay far away.

Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook and Finn Scicluna-O'Prey all work together to deliver a story written by Tom Vaughan, Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig that is actually more about how to deal with grief and the trauma from gun violence. I can totally see why some people hated it, but I think it deserves a lot more credit than it has gotten. I think a movie like this is topical at the moment and should be applauded in some part for the ideas more than the execution of its overarching narrative.

I think one of the things that really blew my mind was that the non-supernatural moments of the film were based on real events. There really was a woman named Sarah Lockwood Winchester who inherited a large fortune and built a scary house that is still visited by ghost hunters today. What I loved most about Helen Mirren’s portrayal of her was that she wasn’t over the top. Her performance is one of the few subtle things about this movie. Obviously, there are moments when she dials it right up to ten but for the most part I found Sarah very relatable and cheered her on when things got tricky.

Jason Clarke as Dr. Eric Price is the main protagonist of the movie and does what he has to do to carry the better part of the film, but a lot of his acting is reactionary so for the better part of the film I found myself holding my breath when he was on the screen. Eventually his character had a moment when we understood his motivations and he actually did something cool.

I would say go watch this movie if you can handle scary moments in dark rooms with strangers. But if maybe that makes you anxious and you still want to watch something about the supernatural, just watch a documentary about the actual Winchester House. 

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