Firearm heiress Sarah Winchester is convinced that she is haunted by the souls killed at the hands of the Winchester repeating rifle. After the sudden deaths of her husband and child, she throws herself into the construction of an enormous mansion designed to keep the evil spirits at bay. But when skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist Eric Price is dispatched to the estate to evaluate her state of mind, he discovers that her obsession may not be so insane after all.
Mirren does her best to bring gravitas to the role, although I m not sure that s what it needed. Nor does she give it Miss Havisham scary-spinster camp. It needed a bit more Bette Davis, a bit of sarcasm. Mirren just looks like she hates being here.
Sarah may not be crazy, but the film seems slightly nuts.
Winchester draws on a fascinating true story but then simplifies and sensationalizes it to fit creaky, clunky horror conventions.
What Winchester lacks in originality its creators amply make up for in execution.
Having laid out an unusually intricate and politically charged puzzle, "Winchester" proceeds to solve it in the clunkiest, most perfunctory way imaginable.
Ho-hum apparitions appear and disappear without a trace. Ms. Mirren and her representatives are probably hoping the movie will do likewise.
All that speculative fun has been shaped into a rather clunky, derivative bit of supernatural claptrap: a haunted house movie curiously low on mystery or honest scares.
Even the scares, too infrequent for this type of film, have a consistent misdirection that becomes tired and predictable. The ending tries to be thoughtful, but there s not enough investment in these characters to care.
The Winchester Mystery House deserves a little better than "Winchester."
Let the guilt and dread and spooky atmospherics and oh, yes, ensuing madness commence! Wait, no? Jump scares? Oh well.