Humdrum haunted house horror harking the Hammer days but without enough kitsch to make it interesting.
Disappointing that the film is made by the Spierig Brothers whose first film Undead had at least some hokey humour and their follow up films Daybreakers and Predestination were in my top ten for their years.
Since then they have done Jigsaw and now WINCHESTER, both projects that have come to them, not originated by.
WINCHESTER is set just outside San Francisco in what is counted as the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester here played by black clothed and veiled Helen Mirren, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But Sarah is not building for herself. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters…
For her niece and young son, this spells spooky doom. For the troubled Doctor Eric Price whom she has summoned to the house under the auspices to report on her sanity, it spells a weird redemption.
There’s no doubt that the Spierig’s are masters of the shock cut and there is palpable frisson of spine tingling follicle raising in some scenes, but the narrative is naff, and there is no leavening humour in the screenplay, which is a very dour and pedestrian affair.
Sarah Snook is impressive as always as the nervous niece who is given a Ripley moment against a couple of sinister spectres and Jason Clarke is solid as the laudanum addicted doctor.
A bit of laugh is to be had at the presence of Bruce Spence as the lurching butler of Sarah Winchester, deliciously deadpan and stoically solid.
The premise of lost souls who have died by firearms and seeks retribution to the weapon makers is an interesting one but given rather too shallow and short shrift here. Instead, there is a spurious connection that the supernatural caused the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.