Winchester Mystery Movie

The most haunted house in the world sits on an isolated stretch of land that's 50 miles outside of San Francisco. Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To an outsider, it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman's madness. But Sarah's actually building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts -- and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters.

The Skinny

If you've ever visited the Winchester House in San Jose, California and heard the tale of Sarah Winchester - who believed the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles haunted her and were appeased by never ending construction - you might think it would make a great movie. I do too. Why nobody ever picked up on that story and developed it I have no idea - but unfortunately, the writers that did made a bit of a hash of it.

In this movie adaptation of the Winchester story, Helen Mirren stars as the aged and - let's face it - batshit crazy Sarah Winchester. Mirren does a wonderful job of selling the quietly disturbed pensioner, and her passion for remodeling. The house is well represented, but a few well known elements getting most of the limelight. Namely the staircase that goes nowhere and the shallow stairs with switchbacks that Sarah had installed to make it easy to transition between floors. The damage that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake did to the house also got a part in the movie, but there is so much more tot he house that never shows up.

Overall, the movie goes for a lot of cheap jump scares and lacks cerebral depth or exploration of the ideas presented by the premise. The ending is a disappointment too, extremely anti-climactic.

The Bottom Line

Worth a watch, especially if you like Jump Scare movies. Visiting the house itself is probably a better investment of time, though.