If last year’s Jigsaw was a remarkably average attempt to swindle their careers into more of a mainstream audience, Winchester sees them attempting to do that and failing miserably. It tells the supposed (but totally bogus) true story of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), a widower left in charge of a Californian gun company heavily involved in the American Civil War. Her guns resulted in the death of hundreds, if not thousands of people, much to her sincere regret. Sarah’s house is constantly under construction, with rooms and stairs following no coherent pattern and leading to absolutely nowhere, striking concern for her sanity.
The basic premise is, in its own right, devilishly creepy. You’ve got a maze of house overrun by evil entities lusting for revenge against the owner, and a stranger thrust into the middle of it all, forced to assess what’s real and what’s not. Winchester should’ve been brilliant. There’s so much room for sheer terror laid out in this inherently interesting premise, and yet the Spierig Brothers whittle it down to your generic, run-of-the-mill jump scare fest that never once follows through with any of its initial creativity.
Winchester is competently made; I’ll give it that. The Spierig Brothers sure know how to stage a shot. There’s a brilliant, if not over-done colour pallet at use, which lends itself to the twisted set design, but set design alone isn’t enough to make this film enjoyable. The final result is far from it. I legitimately don’t think there’s a single effective scare in this entire movie. Sure, a loud noise here or there is a little louder than anticipated, but that’s not scary; that’s just unexpected.
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