Review: ‘Winchester’ Has a Grim Helen Mirren. And a Silly Script.
Released with out fanfare or publicity screenings, the haunted-house film “Winchester” would appear to lack the arrogance of its makers. One quickly sees why: Despite the usually elevating presence of Helen Mirren, this super-silly characteristic (the fifth from the Australian brothers Peter and Michael Spierig) stubbornly resists being classed up.
Set in 1906 and impressed by precise occasions (liberally sauced with delusion and legend), the story facilities on the eccentric Sarah Winchester (Ms. Mirren, grimly decided), heiress to the rifle fortune and keen dabbler in structure and spiritualism. Believing that she has flourished on the deaths attributable to her late husband’s invention, Sarah atones by developing a huge and ever-changing mansion, whose a whole lot of rooms are supposed to imprison evil spirits or encourage benign ones to maneuver on.
Enter Dr. Price (Jason Clarke), a psychologist employed by the Winchester firm’s board to depend Sarah’s marbles and report again. Conveniently hooked on laudanum, Dr. Price is quickly staggering across the labyrinthine construction, besieged by generic scares: a creepy butler, a rattling armoire, a youngster within the grip of milky-eyed possession. The Hogwarts-like domicile is perhaps swarming with workers and development employees, however not till Price arrives do the spirits hit the fan.
Written by the Spierigs and Tom Vaughan, the script is as batty and clichéd as its heroine. The home (you may take a tour of the actual one in San Jose, Calif.) by no means seems like a single area, as ho-hum apparitions seem and disappear with out a hint. Ms. Mirren and her representatives are most likely hoping the film will do likewise.
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