Winchester – Movie Review – Formulaic execution that lacks any suspense.

Winchester tells the story of firearm heiress Sarah Winchester, who summons Eric Price (Jason Clarke) to her massive California mansion, to investigate whether she is being haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester Repeating Rifle.

The script for this film has a somewhat interesting narrative that unfortunately fizzles out, very quickly. Most of the blame can but boiled down to poor writing that didn’t take advantage of the potential this story possess. The full potential of the two lead characters wasn’t fully realised either. There’s an element of the story that briefly presents the idea that maybe people are envisioning the ghosts in their mind, instead of actually seeing them. That would’ve been an interesting element to explore because it could helped create a sense of paranoia, not only for the characters but also for the audience.

Both Jason Clarke and Helen Mirren are fine in their roles. You can tell they were trying to elevate the material above the level of quality that it sits at, but as the story moved forward it became more clear to see, that would have been a gargantuan task. The rest of the characters in the film all felt expendable and uninteresting. There’s a mother and son who are also being tormented by ghosts, but whenever the film decided to focus on them for a scene, it just ended up losing my attention because I just wasn’t interested in anything about them.

As for whether this film is scary? The answer is a simple, no. This is one of those horror films that is unable to even build any atmosphere and suspense. It’s almost as if the directors, Michael and Peter Spierig thought that using loud noises to startle the audience would be satisfying enough, even if there’s no tension built before the scares. In fact all the scares in this film are predictable and lazy. They lack any form of inventiveness and for a horror fanatic like myself, it’s just borderline offensive.

Another completely wasted opportunity is how the film utilises the Winchester mansion. With over one hundred rooms in this sprawling mansion, the film could’ve kept things fresh and unique through out the story. We could’ve got an insight into many different areas of the mansion and even the parts that were still unfinished. That alone could’ve helped build atmosphere, but instead we only ever see the same few rooms through out the entire film. I think it really would’ve added more to the film if we got to explore the mansion and see more of it.

One thing I began to notice half way through the film is how bland the colour palette is. It’s a mixture of greys and muted blue colour. The whole palette looks drained of vibrancy and life, it is so unappealing to the eye. Back onto the topic of the story, the film often breaks it’s own rules that it’s put in place, it gets so ridiculous towards the end that I completely checked out and began anticipating the end of it all. Tonally the film takes itself so seriously even when unintentionally laughable things start occurring, but it’s not the type of laughably bad film where you can find enjoyment in it’s weaknesses. It’s the type where it’s just dull and boring.

Overall, Winchester was somewhat interesting at first, but whether interest I had quickly fizzled out. The story doesn’t really make much sense and breaks it’s own rules. As for the atmosphere and suspense, there is none. The attempts at scares are formulaic and predictable.


(1 Star Out of 5)


Winchester – Starring Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook and Finn Scicluna-O’Prey.

Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig.

Now showing in U.K. Cinemas.

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