The story of Sarah Winchester is utterly fascinating.
Heir her husband’s enormous fortune – courtesy of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company which sold their guns to the Union army in the American Civil War – the widower felt considerable guilt over all the people who had been killed with her family’s weapons.
After speaking with a spiritualist, she decided to build a crazy, illogical mansion near San Francisco to ward off the ghosts she believed were following her.
That’s the real story, the truth of Sarah Winchester.
What we see on screen in The Spierig Brothers’ Winchester is not.
It’s frankly a disappointing, predictable and unsatisfying.
One would think such an intriguing character would make for a thoroughly interesting film, but this horror relies on schlocky jump-scares and the tease of a ‘true story’ to get people interested.
Dame Helen Mirren – Oscar-winner and all-round legend – plays the titular character. She is constantly draped in a laughably over-the-top black veil, a sad, dark figure stalking throughout the house.
Fearing she is unfit to helm the Winchester company, board members hire a psychologist to evaluate Sarah.
Enter Dr Eric Price, played by Aussie Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).
Dr Price is a sceptic and doesn’t believe Winchester’s tale of ghosts haunting her house.
Also staying at the mansion are Winchester’s niece Marion (Sarah Snook) and her son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O'Prey).
The longer Dr Price stays at the house, the weirder things get, with strange faces, eerie noises and some very odd behaviour from members of the household.
While some of the jump-scares are decent and actually scary, most of the film is eye-roll-inducing.
By the climax anyone who is still awake will be waiting for the film to just kill everyone off and be done with it.
There are very few redeeming features in Winchester, which should perhaps not be a surprise to anyone who has seen the directors’ last effort, Jigsaw – the Saw sequel that managed to be less gory than its predecessors.
Don’t waste your time with Winchester – watch Supernatural instead.