Winchester (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk
Buried underneath the Winchester Mansion, there is probably a better version of this movie. Winchester (2018) suffers from the laughable dialogue, poor world consistency, and believing their audience wasn’t paying enough attention to catch the most obvious of plot details. It’s not the fault of the actors (who gave a sincere effort) that they couldn’t salvage this story.
Winchester misses the mark…yeah.
Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) is hired to evaluate Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) at her mansion that has been “built by spirits.” Of course, Price is suffering from his own demons and addiction to medicine, but he’s the perfect person for the board to leverage into giving the evaluation they’re seeking. He’s a man of science, so doesn’t believe in the shadows that Sarah claims haunt the mansion as a result of the Winchester rifles.
There are so many lame attempts at scares in this film. If you enjoy lame scares, you can click this link and watch the trailer on YouTube, because most of them are in it. Save yourself the time and money by getting the gist of the scary moments from there. The horror film clichés are sprinkled throughout: creepy kid possessed by a ghost, the character looking in a mirror scare, the cynical character starting to believe is suddenly scared by an actual person, and unexplained restraint shown by the angry spirits.
I felt my eyelids getting heavy pretty early
Yeah, that last cliché is super problematic in this film. The vengeful spirits don’t quite seem to be able to complete the task they are attempting to do for no apparent reason other than to move the plot forward. Even when they appear to have a clear upper hand, they just stop in their tracks for no apparent reason. It’s established fairly early on that this film has no real threat, and the characters are probably all safe.
Winchester suffers from some technical elements, too. There are at least two moments in the film that seem like they were remnants of a story arc that landed on the cutting room floor. One belongs to Clark in a throwaway moment early in the film, while the other is during the climax and belongs to Sarah Snook. She’s in a full monologue that appears to be referencing a conversation that should have happened earlier in the film. However, the only character I remember having a conversation in the vein of the topic was Clark and a prostitute at the opening of the film, before he’s gone to the mansion.
I watch a lot of films, but I rarely almost fall asleep during a screening. I felt my eyelids getting heavy pretty early on but managed to tough it out. As the story got deeper into nonsense, the laughs I couldn’t suppress helped wake me up. Though the events unfolding on the screen were nightmarish, it wasn’t by the design of the Spierig brothers. Winchester earns the Avoid like the Plague rating.