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Movie Review: Winchester


Movie Review: Winchester

Gerasimos Canatselis

Winchester, is a 2018 horror film that stars critically-acclaimed actress Helen Mirren co-starring alongside Australian actor Jason Clarke. The film, set in a Victorian-esque era, depicts the supernatural investigation and evaluation of Sarah Winchester, widow to established gun manufacturer William Winchester.

It has been well noted that the Winchester Mystery House, is one of America’s most haunted houses. The film places itself centrefold of the mystery that lies within the Winchester House. Depicted with a unique colour scheme, the film plays like a moving painting of that era. The deep hues have you feel that you too are embarked alongside Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) in investigating the mystery that is Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren). Divided with himself, the doctor enters the story as a man struggling with his past. Jason Clarke gains quick credibility as the highlight of this film, with his role as the troubled doctor. 

Once arriving at the epic construction of the Winchester Mansion, things sure feel amiss. The mansion is under constant construction and inside has more rooms than residents’. This leads to the doctor questioning the mental state of the frail heiress to the Winchester fortune. 

While initially hesitant and questioning the doctor’s presence, Sarah Winchester opens up to the doctor revealing her secret in that she can communicate with the afterlife. She claims that it is her responsibility to aid spirits in moving on, by constructing a room for them to reside in her mansion. The spirits are victims of bullets fired by Winchester rifles. Throughout the film we witness doctor Eric Price’s realisation that spiritual beings’ are well and truly present within the Winchester household. His awakening to the supernatural is timely with Sarah’s encounter of a dangerous spirit who threatens both the Winchester household and its occupants.

The film’s direction is taken from traditional horror movies, and incorporates various elements from similar movies over the last decade. This unfortunately draws us away from the plot and the disturbing supernatural element to the Winchester residence. Whilst Helen Mirren’s presence is an attempt to gain credibility to this B-Grade film, her role’s significance ultimately goes unnoticed. The film attempts several traditional jump-scares utilising unique techniques, building tight suspense. These, however are overshadowed by a dwindling plot that tries to draw too many horror elements into one film. A saving grace to the film is a plot twist towards the end, that achieves some shock value. As for the ending and final sequence, audiences can expect to be left hoping for more. Overall, the film tries to show too much whilst saying too little.

The Final Rating:

+ Jason Clarke provides an award worthy performance.

+ Colour and scenery is truly a work of art.

+ Premise is certainly eerie and spooky.

- Plot falls flat, giving a cheesy feel to the film

- Too many basic horror elements draw away from the story

- Non-climatic ending



All Photos Credit To Ben King - © Winchester Film Productions