Oscar winner Helen Mirren made a large mistake by signing onto this catastrophe.
The opening tagline for "Winchester" states, "Inspired by actual events." But the film is far from inspirational and begs one to question its authenticity. Moreover, what was Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren thinking when she agreed to star in this fiasco?
The story line is based upon the real life Sarah Winchester's (Mirren) superstitious belief that she's being haunted by the victims of her family's invention, the Winchester repeating rifle. In the early 1900s, the Winchester board of directors begin to question her sanity and hired psychiatrist Eric Price (Jason Clarke) to evaluate her zany preoccupations. He's addicted to Laudanum, so we're never quite sure whether his observations are accurate. Sarah surprisingly allows Dr. Price to stay in the massive mansion because he was legally dead for three minutes after having been shot by his now deceased wife. A bond is immediately forged.
Each room in the mansion is constructed to mirror the one in which each victim died. Construction workers are building 24/7, 365 days a year for a total of 38 years on more than 500 rooms. One would think they would have caught a glimpse of the nefarious goings on, but not so. The only people to witness the apparitions are Sarah, Dr. Price, Sarah's niece and her young son. This film is just lame on so many levels.
Brothers Michael and Peter Spierig ("Jigsaw") direct and script this borefest which had the potential to be intriguing. They provide the audience with many clues but fall short on delivery. A random roller skate periodically darts across the floor, staircases that lead to nowhere are abound, but what significance do they have? The only thing the film avoids stooping to is having Mirren utter, "I see dead people."
Mirren does deliver a decent performance given a weak script, as does Clarke. But it's not enough to elevate this low-budget movie to one worth catching.
"Winchester" pretty much ends up where it began. Was Sarah insane or, perhaps, really on to something? Does gun violence only beget more gun violence? The film was not screened for the press prior to its release. And that is not a good omen.
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