By midlandsmovies, May 27 2018 07:23AM
Winchester (2018) Dir. Michael and Peter Spierig
Oh Spierig brothers, what happened, guys? 2009 saw their breakthrough hit Daybreakers take an interesting angle on the vampire genre where humans are farmed for their blood whilst Willem Defoe and Ethan Hawke discover a possible cure.
After that came the phenomenal sci-fi short-story adaptation Predestination; a film which presented a twisting time-travel narrative with Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook and whose clever premise made it our 4th best film of 2015.
Snook is back in their latest movie along with Helen Mirren as heiress Sarah Winchester. The lady of the house is haunted by spirits in her turn of the century mansion. Also along for the (dull) ride is Jason Clarke as Eric Price, a doctor who is sent to diagnose her mental state of mind by the gun company she lends her name to.
Based on the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, a real location claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles to this day, the scares, if you can call them that, begin early. But don’t expect the slow build up needed for these kind of films. Atmosphere? Absolutely nowhere to be seen. Tension? You wish!
Quiet, quiet, quiet then BOOM, a pale looking ghost appears. If that's your thing then fill your boots but for the rest of us that technique is lifeless and predictable.
The endless jump scares and pre-emptive musical stings remove any mood the film was attempting to create and despite some good costume and set design cannot overcome its complete lack of horror in a supposedly horror film.
Unengaging and unsatisfying, the brilliant Helen Mirren sadly fails to bring her gravitas and talent to the one-dimensional character and hackneyed haunted house plot. Lazy, seen-it-all-before jump sequences (oh look, a ghost appears in a moving mirror) and boring corridor explorations make Winchester’s narrative as meandering as the layout of the mansion itself.
Hugely disappointing, the Speirigs previously delivered two exciting genre hits focusing on character, story and interesting themes but with Winchester (and their franchise failure Jigsaw) their career is heading downward in the wrong direction. A lack of true shocks, a boring narrative and scene after scene of dull exposition, not even the talented actors can raise this flop from the dead.
Midlands Movies Mike