I grew up loving scary stories. Anytime I heard about ghosts or something haunted, my ears perked up. So, naturally hearing about the Winchester Mansion was something that made me more and more curious. I always wondered what it would be like to explore the house and see what it was like. Staircases that led nowhere, doors that led outside the house, to nothing. A place that was said to be haunted. It was believed that Mrs. Winchester designed the home to be able to confuse any ghosts that were haunting here and that the ongoing construction would somehow prevent her death. So, naturally, when they announced the film, I was interested. But, how would it play out?
The story focuses on a psychologist who ends up being commissioned to assess Mrs. Winchester’s state of mind. He goes to the mansion and finds himself with a lot of questions. Because he has a drug problem, which was very common at that time, he is unable to tell if he is experiencing things or they are figments of his imagination. He is trying to figure out what is happening, not only to his patient; but in the house. The story is one that is based on the actual story of the house, but I have never heard of Mrs. Winchester and some of the actions in the film. So, there are some liberties that are taken to make the film scarier; which you would expect.
The acting is pretty good. Helen Mirren is in a different role that seemed like an odd choice to me. However, as expected, she carries it out well. I don’t think there is a part that she could take that would be too hard for her. And I know this isn’t it. Jason Clarke stars opposite her and does a pretty decent job, himself. Of course, he can’t outshine Helen Mirren; but who could? Unfortunately, the acting wasn’t enough to carry the film. It fell just short of what was needed for that. But, it was good. Just out of place. This isn’t a film for great acting, it’s a film for thrills and scares.
If you like scary movies, you might find yourself disappointed this time. Watching the trailer, you get the sense that this can either be a scary movie or one that falls just a bit short. Like so many films these days, it promises to scare you; but mostly delivers startles. It isn’t something that will give you nightmares, but you will jump a few times. I found some parts predictable and there were many times I was supposed to jump and didn’t. But, there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and a few times that I jumped. I wouldn’t say it was scary or even creepy. But, there were some moments that had me leaned forward in my seat. I just wouldn’t go in expecting to walk out scared.
The film is beautiful aesthetically. I thought that the palate complimented the time period well and it all contributed to the feel they were going for. However, instead of achieving the creepy feel; they made it feel muted. The direction was decent, but nothing to get excited about. Cinematically, don’t look for anything thrilling. The acting is good. But, with the other facets of the film wanting; it just fell a little flat to me. I thought that with everything else lacking, the acting couldn’t save it. But, it was nice to watch.
Overall, I thought it was a decent movie. It isn’t something I would pay a full price ticket to see. I think it would be better to watch it at home, in the dark. Pop some popcorn or grab a tub of ice cream and camp out on the couch. This way if you don’t like it, you didn’t have to leave the house to see it or spend much money on the ticket. And if you decide to have a bottle of wine while you’re watching, instead; that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. One to ten, I would rate this film a six. The acting was good and there were some good moments, but the rest kept me thinking about checking my phone or what I wanted to eat for dinner. Save yourself the hassle, time and some cash. This is a movie to rent, for sure.