Directors: Michael Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers), Peter Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers)
Writers: Tom Vaughan, Michael Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers)
Stars: Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey
Plot: Ensconced in her sprawling California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 14% Audience 35%
Why I Watched It: Spierig Brothers are very good horror/genre filmmakers I’ve seen all their films and of course the cast.
Random Thoughts: This film took a huge beating with the critics, 14% that’s got to hurt. Now I don’t get scared off by bad reviews for genre movies it happens, not everyone likes horror and I do think there’s the piling on effect, once it becomes the popular opinion that a film sucks then everyone piles on and it becomes one of the worst films of the year.
What I Liked: I’ll get it out of the way, I didn’t hate this movie and I will thank everyone for lowing my expectations. Now this isn’t great and it’s easily my least favourite of the Spierig brothers films but I kind of liked it. The main selling point of the film is that not only is it based on a true story but the house is all kinds of strange and let’s be honest it’s the selling point of the movie. It sounds like a Poe story, I house that is consistently being built and haunted, more rooms more ghosts. At it’s heart this is a haunted house ghost story and it comes with all those cliches that are in every ghost story. What I like here is that it’s more than a mystery of why the ghost is haunting the house because we know why, we are told why but the story here is, are their ghosts or is this a story of a women who has gone mad.
Helen Mirren is good here and give her tons of credit for not going over the top, she gives a mannered performance, the thing that is interesting about her is that either way this story comes out she loses, she’s either haunted or crazy. The idea that a women who has made her money from guns being haunted by the guns victims is a very cool and very horror idea. I also want to give credit to Jason Clarke who I sometimes really don’t like as an actor but here I liked him and I was surprised, I actually liked his back story and also liked the fact that he really wasn’t closed minded as we thought he was, he could have come off as a cliche and twirled his moustache but he plays it down the middle with a man dealing with the prospect of ghosts.
The atmosphere was good, it’s shot well but it’s a tad dark I get why but the house is hard to make out at times. The house is cool and it plays it’s part but it could have been more much more.
What I Didn’t Like: Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a great horror movie it has major flaws, for me the Spierigs phoned this in, it’s solid but I don’t feel the passion or the intelligence that are in their other films also it feels like your standard ghost story set in a cool house and that’s all they did with it.
The script isn’t great cause we kind of know early on the answer to the film’s only question is the house haunted with “real ghosts” once we know the film kind of spins it’s wheels. Also putting a child at risk is getting very tired it’s become a cliche of a cliche now. Also what a waste of Sarah Snook, she’s a great actor and this is a nothing role please go watch Predestination to see what she can do with good material. I liked some of the finale but it does lose a lot of steam like I said I think the film needed more energy and needed a quicker pace and tone, the film plays too much like a period piece than a horror film.
Final Thoughts: I won’t die on the hill for Winchester, but I did like it a lot more than most and I will say that over used line “It wasn’t that bad, I’ve seen a lot worse”