Title – Winchester (2018)
Director – The Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers)
Cast – Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Jason Clarke, Angus Sampson, Eamon Farren, Bruce Spence
Plot – Heir to the Winchester firearm’s business, Sarah Winchester (Mirren) is haunted by the ghosts of her company’s weapons in her sprawling mansion and enlists the help of Doctor Eric Price (Clarke) to help her overcome her mental demons.
“Do you believe in ghosts, doctor?”
Review by Eddie on 13/11/2018
Australian directing duo the Spierig Brothers can count themselves extremely lucky that they managed to enlist the services of Hollywood Dame Helen Mirren for their locally made and tinged “based on a true story” horror, Winchester, as this schlocky and uninspired attempt at telling a genuinely intriguing story is a film with very little in the way of redeeming qualities.
It’s hard to know exactly why an actress of the prestige and experience of Mirren would’ve signed on the dotted line to appear in the Spierig’s film, perhaps a nice excuse to holiday down under is what got her across the line? As the Spierig’s and Tom Vaughan’s script and execution of the tale of the widowed Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester repeater company in the early 1900’s, is amateurish and laboured at best.
Inspired by Sarah’s reported dealings with ghosts of the company’s products and the haunting of her lavish mansion, Winchester had the elements to become something of a horror treat for local and international audiences and the Spierig brothers coming off their fantastic sci-fi head-trip Predestination seemed like the perfect choice to bring the eerie and skin-crawling tale of Sarah’s experiences to life, but alas that is not the case.
Amongst all the many varied problems with the Spierig’s film, outside of a weak script, lifeless acting turns and an inability to do anything in an original way, is the fact that Winchester is almost entirely devoid of scares or frights, making it the worst kind of horror film that fails to live up to its genre title.
Joining Mirren for this scare-free ride is the collection of local talent that includes Jason Clarke in the thankless role of doctor Eric Price, Sarah Snook as Sarah’s niece and pointless side character Marion and character actor Angus Sampson, who would’ve been better preparing for the next Insidious film rather than showing up for this and all actors look both lost and uninterested with the Spierig’s uninspired material, that thinks a collection of wannabe jump scares is all that’s needed to make things tick over.
Final Say –
There’s a great story at the heart and soul of Winchester but one the Spierig brothers fail to capitalise on in any way, shape or form. A talented cast can’t help save this horror turkey from becoming one of the years most high-profile disappointments and an unfortunately terrible local production.
1 floating rifle out of 5