“Winchester” stars Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, the widow of the man who manufactured the Winchester rifle. She decides to construct a large mansion which then becomes haunted by the spirits of those who died at the hands of Winchester firearms, leading to a doctor played by Jason Clarke to go to the house at Winchester’s request.
This is basically our filler movie to come out on Super Bowl weekend and to fill in a slot in the typically lackluster February lineup. It’s a horror movie that’s sole purpose is to give reviewers at least one movie to review this weekend before they tear into “Fifty Shades Freed” next week. But fortunate for us, this horror movie is something for us to tear into right now.
Seeing as how this is a horror movie coming out early in the year with an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, I really don’t think I even need to comment on how it works as a horror film, but I’ll just go ahead and say that it’s NOT scary in the slightest. Most of the “scares” in this movie are cheap, predictable jump scares. They’re the typical jump scares where it’s completely quiet and then a loud swell of music accompanies something jumping at the camera, and they’re not even set up properly. One of the scares in this movie is the most cliched mirror scare you could write in a horror movie. If a horror movie fails to scare me in any way, then that’s strike one and you’re out. It’s simply not worth my time anymore.
As far as the acting goes, it’s functional at best. Helen Mirren is certainly above this material and the role of Sarah Winchester is basically just her moping around in all black and giving creepy looks at the camera. It’s a role that she simply doesn’t need, and the same can be said for Jason Clarke. I like Clarke as an actor, but he’s given nothing in this film. His character is instantly unlikable and he simply doesn’t have what it takes to be the leading man in this movie. That’s more of a problem with the script than his acting, but it also doesn’t help that Clarke gives some…let’s say questionable facial expressions when he’s suppose to be scared in some scenes.
By and large, this movie is just plain boring. I’m sorry to sound so simple in my criticism, but that’s just how I felt watching this movie. I was sitting in my seat, restless and not caring about any of the characters or the “scares”. In all honesty, I cared more about the spirits haunting Winchester more so than Winchester herself. The spirits looked like they had some stories to tell, but no, we just get stuck with boring characters in a boring house filled with boring horror movie cliches.
There actually is one tense scene near the end of the film. I won’t spoil it (as if you’re all just absolutely dying to see this movie) but it utilizes the Winchester firearms and it’s a semi-tense sequence that made this movie slightly more watchable near the end. It’s just a shame that the road leading up to it practically put me to sleep.
Overall, “Winchester” is a February horror movie and that’s all you need to know. It’s boring, cliched, and most of all, not scary. If you advertise yourself as a horror film and you fail to deliver any creepy or unique horror elements, then you’ve failed, simple as that. This movie has one tense scene and serviceable performances, but as a scary movie, it did its job in the most banal way possible.
Rating: Some Ol’ Bullshit