Inspired by true events. On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester, (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren) heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day 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 (Sarah Snook) or for the brilliant Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) 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.
Very little of the filming took place in the actual mansion. The mansion's design in reality is extremely cramped, making filming very difficult. As such, most of the mansion's interior needed to be recreated on sound stages. See more »
In one scene featuring the character of the doctor he can be seen to be writing on a notepad, however upon closer inspection the actor is simply tracing over already written words. See more »
This movie isn't bad but it doesn't seem to quite deliver on it's setup. With a few tweaks this could've been a very successful slow burn, Gothic 'ghost' story in the manner of 'The Innocents' and 'The Haunting". What those movies did was create a film with all the trappings of supernatural horror without ever letting you know whether the supernatural element is real. 'Winchester' teases with this concept through most of the movie and then goes full blown, over the top, Hollywood-Ghost-Spooktacular at the end.
The cinematography is very atmospheric. The acting is good and there's a few scary moments. A marked over-reliance on jump scares got a little tedious. I really don't think they took as much advantage of the location as they could've. They might've tried some disembodied Steadicam shots with scary music to set the mood. We needed to see more of the 'Mystery House'. We needed to feel the craziness of it. It should've felt claustrophobic and all consuming. People should've got lost in it. Well, they don't and we feel everybody could leave anytime they felt like it.
The portrayal of Sarah Winchester as the tortured, guilt ridden ghost appeaser falls short, as well. This is a woman who lost a child and husband and believes she's cursed but they don't really bring that performance out and I'm sure they could've. I mean you've got Helen F-ing Miren for cripes sake. Don't you think she could knock that out of the park?
This is one of times when I have to put it all on the director. I think this screenplay probably read very well. The thing that consistently seems to bog it down is bad decisions on where to take it. For what it was, it was entertaining. I just don't think it fulfilled it's potential.
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