Helen Mirren carries the movie with her outstanding performance as Sarah Winchester. She brings class, vulnerability, and strength to her role, elevating the movie to a higher level. The other contribution comes from Jason Clarke, surprisingly. He does a fine job of bringing Doctor Eric Price to life on screen, giving him faults and demons that we want him to overcome as to help Sarah with her supernatural situation. Sarah Snook portrays Sarah's niece Marion Marriott and is decent in the role. Truth be told, these three individuals helped being humanity and realism to their respective characters and raises the film beyond its PG-13 rating.
The film was directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, aka The Spierig Brothers. Coming off from last year's Halloween horror film JIGSAW (which you can read my review here), the brothers beautifully direct the film with grace, style, and fear. They do a wonderful job of combining character development with gothic thrills, much like the old Hammer Horror films from yesteryear. The brothers also co-wrote the film along with screenwriter Tom Vaughan. Though I liked the story, to me, it felt a little bit rushed and wasn't structured more soundly.
While I enjoyed it for the most part, and I did like the story and characters, something was missing. And all throughout the screening I couldn't figure out what the hell was missing. Then it occurred to me: the house itself wasn't represented very well in the film. While locals may know the life of Sarah Winchester, the only thing we know very well is the Winchester Mystery House itself. Fans and tourists of the mansion have been coming here for decades, taking the tours and seeing first hand how amazing and mesmerizing it truly is. The house is a character and should have been more predominate since it's now all we have to explore.
WINCHESTER is an entertaining ghost story, but lacks the necessary ingredients to make it a supernaturally thrilling film! With so much history, both Sarah Winchester and the Winchester Mystery House deserved more than just a run-of-the-mill, scary, PG-13 ghost fright flick. The acting was great, but that was about it. I hope Sarah won't be too mad about how the movie turned out. 3 out of 5 stars! It's a future rental at best!
WINCHESTER is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!