Although slightly better than some other modern horrors, ‘Winchester’ is nothing incredibly memorable. Despite the film’s story being based on true events and having some decent performances throughout, the film still suffers from mostly a bland atmosphere and enormous over-reliance on jump-scares. Resulting in a mostly boring experience.
Plot Summary: In 1906, ‘Sarah Winchester’ the firearm heiress mourning the loss of her family. Begins to believe she is being haunted by the souls of people killed by the ‘Winchester’ repeating rifle. So, ‘Dr. Eric Price’ is sent by order of her company to her ever-growing home in California in order to inspect her sanity, discovering for himself the disturbing history of: ‘Sarah’s home…
A story like this isn’t anything new for sure, we’ve all heard the ‘based on a true story’ or ‘haunted by my past’ storyline a thousand times before. However, they were a few elements of this story I did enjoy, the main two protagonists of the film, that being: ‘Dr. Eric Price’ portrayed by Jason Clark and ‘Sarah Winchester’ portrayed by Helen Mirren, are both given some depth. The same cannot be said for the side characters of: ‘Marion Marriott’ and ‘Henry Marriott,’ however, as these characters are given no characterisation barley and do so little within the narrative I was constantly questioning their inclusion.
The film overall has an extremely bland look, as the dim grey colour palette alongside the mostly still and uninventive cinematography by Ben Nott make the film very dull visually. The original score by Peter Spierig also doesn’t benefit the film much, as the soundtrack is you usual horror score with nothing really interesting about it, other than the occasional moment when it becomes uncomfortably loud. There is the occasional pleasing shot or interesting idea here, but it’s definitely few and far between.
Despite the location and the time-period of the film actually being some of the main draws towards it (considering most horrors are usually set within modern-day) and with the ‘Winchester Mansion’ being a real haunted attraction in America. I was very disappointed to find the location barley utilised, as aside from one short scene in the film where ‘Eric’ explores a dark hallway, what we see of the mansion is mostly confined to a few different rooms throughout the runtime.
The film also (as usual) has a heavy reliance on jump-scares, which means the film barley even makes an attempt to build tension. The film seems more in favour of fading out all of the audio before leading into a loud screeching sound while a ‘terrifying’ face appears on-screen. This is an issue with many modern horrors in all fairness, and feels like nothing other than laziness on the part of the filmmakers.
In conclusion, ‘Winchester’ is certainly not one of the worst horrors I’ve ever seen. However, it is a big waste of potential, as I feel a story set within the walls of the ‘Winchester Mansion’ could have been really interesting if the film would’ve gotten inventive with the iconic location they had at their deposal. But as is, the weak characters, bland visuals and dull atmosphere add-up to a very forgettable modern horror. Final Rating: 3/10.