Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune, believes she’s haunted by the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. She buys an eight-room farmhouse near San Francisco and spends the next 38 years turning it into a massive labyrinth of rooms and passageways in an attempt to appease the ghosts. Dr. Eric Price is engaged by the company’s lawyers to assess her sanity. He stays there for a week and begins to see things he can’t explain. When one spirit possesses the body of Sarah’s young grand-nephew, the situation comes to a head. Will Dr. Price be able to solve the mystery of America’s most-haunted house?
2018, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 39 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook
Directed by The Spierig Brothers
It’s hard to imagine Helen Mirren starring in an average film but in this case, she has. Her performance is excellent, as is that of Jason Clark, whom you’ll remember from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Terminator Genesys. The movie falls short in its storytelling. There just isn’t enough interest there to justify a feature presentation. It might have been better served in a one-hour TV special. For those who enjoy the thrill-ride aspect of horror films, there are several boo moments that are handled perfectly. In one scene, early on, I saw it coming from miles away and it still made me jump. The portrayal of history is interesting as well. Sarah Winchester and the mystery house were very real, and the mansion remains open to this day as a tourist attraction. As a film “inspired by true events” it stands up well, but it won’t merit more than one or two viewings at best.
The movie is beautifully shot with natural color and deep contrast. Facial lighting is handled especially well. Helen Mirren is photographed with a bright glow that suits her character. Detail is a tad soft at times but there is no unwanted edge enhancement.
Audio is top-notch and does a great job of building suspense through subtle detail and perfectly-used surround effects. The sub gets a chance to shine as well. Dialog is crisp, clear, and easily understood.
Bonus features include just a single making-of featurette. There is no historical information, which in my opinion, is a wasted opportunity.