Thursday, February 1, 2018

Winchester: Movie Review


Hunting ghosts with guns.
It’s not common to see biographical films mixed with horror, and it’s also not common to see horror films based on real life. Don’t think of Winchester as anything but a horror film. The biographical element does provide a nice hook to get interested, but from there it delves straight into the horror genre. The Exorcist meets The Woman in Black meets any other typical horror movie you can name. Cheap thrills gives way to supernatural nonsense. 2018

Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Screenplay by: Tom Vaughan, Michael and Peter Spierig

Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke

Sarah Winchester is the heiress of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company the most successful firearms company of the 19th to early 20th century. “Superior how?” Sarah responds when asked if she’s proud of her company’s superior products. “Superior at killing people?” That’s the only main reference to today’s gun culture, that one person who profits off guns feels extreme guilt over the use (not misuse since they are literally manufactured to kill people) in destroying people’s lives. It’s an important theme which is not explored deeply at all. She feels guilt, and now we have to go hunt ghosts.

Jason Clarke in WINCHESTER. Images courtesy of VVS Films.
Her guilt has transpired to others at the company believing that she is not of sound mind. A doctor is called in to examine her and determine if she is still sane enough to run the company. She has visions of spirits in her mansion, but she also says that she can tell the difference between hallucinations and reality. The other lead character, Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) was particularly well crafted. He’s a doctor and accomplished, not unreasonable for the audience to assume that he’s logical and practical. For the most part he is, except he’s haunted by the death of his wife, has turned to drinking too much and spends more money than he makes. His numerous character flaws are perfect for an otherwise smart character to succumb to the supernatural.

Helen Mirren is an excellent choice for the aging heiress. A woman with a strong presence and an unforgiving personality; she’s someone who has always been in control and demands to remain in control. Unfortunately, the film decides to take that notion to the extreme.

It opens with a number of cheap, but effective, thrills. Little jump scares when there are people who are but aren’t there. Who is real? Who is a ghost? This devolves into spirits inhabiting people in the house, and then ultimately, hunting down the ghosts with Winchester firearms. Call me crazy, but I never thought that a gun would be a particularly good method of killing ghosts, but perhaps you have to believe in ghosts in the first place.

The setting is the Winchester mansion and based on the rumours that Sarah Winchester believed that the house was haunted. It’s a beautiful setting but the film definitely takes things too far.

Other Titles:

Get Out

10 Cloverfield Lane