“Winchester” is directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and stars Jason Clarke, Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, and Eamon Farren. The film is about the supposedly haunted mansion created by the heir to the Winchester rifles, and a doctor who visits the mansion in order to test the owner’s sanity to see if she is indeed fit to control the company.
The trailers felt very generic, but by casting Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, I did gain some hope and excitement that this horror film could be something to look forward to. However, an early February release had me weary, so I came in simply hoping for some entertainment and some scares.
The performances are easily the best part of the film, with the two leads really standing out above the source material. Helen Mirren is great as Sarah Winchester, even though she doesn’t really get a chance to shine as much as she should. A lot of the movie depends on Jason Clarke to be amazing, and for the most part, he is able to give a very solid performance.
There are a few twists and turns in the plot that I didn’t see coming, and I thought that these moments helped add to the intrigue that the movie was mostly lacking. Clarke’s character has a few moments of clarity that were interesting, and a moment between him and one of the workers was truly the only scare in the movie that I thought was well-crafted.
Nearly every single scare attempt throughout this movie simply does not work, either because it is too obvious or poorly executed. The film goes for the laziest scares possible, with most attempts coming in the form of bad jump scares of faces or non-scary items, and then a sharp, loud noise that annoys me more than anything else. These type of scares remove all possible tension, and it left the movie with nothing to work with as far as building an atmosphere.
When the movie isn’t annoying me with loud noises, it is dreadfully boring, with the middle of the movie having almost nothing of excitement or interest going on with the characters or the plot. The film may only last 99 minutes, but it feels like a two-plus hour bore that never reaches the heights that it could have with better pacing and character development.
The finale to this already sub-par film simply did not help, as it is extremely anti-climactic, and it ends with an action showdown, which does not work with the mood set by the rest of the movie. I already was not into much of anything the film had created, so to end on such an unsatisfying note turned my dislike into hatred.
Arguably the worst thing that this movie does is, somehow, the fact that it is politically charged. Look, I don’t even disagree with the points this film is trying to make, but to make a horror film based in the early-20th century a film to advocate against guns is simply annoying, and it was a move that I found distracting and ridiculous.
“Winchester” is held together by some strong performances, but there is almost nothing of enjoyment aside for a scene or two. This film is unnecessarily political, only scary by being lazy and loud, and there is only so much I can take before I get truly bored. Congrats, “Winchester,” you are the first terrible film of 2018.
What did you think of “Winchester”? Comment below with your thoughts.