Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Winchester Film Review

A reclusive widow and a creepy gothic mansion filled with the living and the dead. Winchester is directed by twin brothers Michael and Peter Spierig and based on the real Winchester San Jose haunted house.

Helen Mirren's Miss Havisham like Sarah Winchester has the controlling interest in her late husband's Winchester rifle company. And wants to make less rifles. She is branching into roller skates for example. But the Company Board members would like to take control from her, and make more guns, so invite Jason Clarke's Dr. Eric Price, a laudanum addicted and possibly fraudulent psychiatrist, to declare her unfit to run the company. All for a sum that would clear his debts and more. An offer he cannot afford to refuse.

Under Sarah's right hand man Angus Sampson, of Insidious alumni, Winchester is a house constantly being enlarged, and under construction 24 hours a day. With new rooms being built, demolished, and then rebuilt. With staircases leading to dead ends, and doors opening nowhere. Even a sheer drop. But it's all beautifully designed by Sarah who is possessed by ghosts to build. And Winchester creepily invites us in to hear it's ghost story.

Eric meets Sarah's niece played by Sarah Snook, who tells him to be kind to her Aunt Sarah, she is the strong one protecting the family. And there definitely is something supernatural at Winchester, because we see her son Henry, played by the exotically named Finn Scicluna-O’Prey, being possessed. And he says He's coming.

But when Eric meets Sarah Winchester he is having none of this spooky business. He believes she is just suffering grief from both her late husband and young child's death many years ago. And what he sees in the mirror he convinces himself is just his withdrawal from the laudanum. But one night when the bell tolls midnight, he saves Henry on one of his midnight possession walks. And Sarah opens up to him about the mystery of the house, and why she constantly builds. She believes Winchester is a portal for the ghosts of those killed by the namesake rifle. And while some are laid peacefully to rest, there are others that need to be kept in the replica rooms where they died. The doors sealed with 13 nails. And Eric is warned he must never go into the garden room. So we know of course that that is where Eric is going to eventually end up. And in there is a rocking chair he knows.

But Sarah's latest project is not ideal for a vengeful spirit shot dead by the Winchester rifle. And this one played by Eamon Farren is not going to go quietly. And makes himself known with shocks and jumps while he slips between the living and the dead. But there is one thing he's afraid of, and it's the reason why Sarah Winchester specifically requested that it be Dr. Eric Price who was engaged.

I loved architecture of the house and the story of the ghosts with unfinished business, and of course the casting of Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, who is such a good actor, was impressive. But I wanted more terror from the supernatural and ghostly beings, although the ending did imply there was more to come. But we shall have to wait and see whether there is a sequel.

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