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Winchester - Film Review

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by Jenny Pickett (subscribe)
I enjoy making the most of life's experiences, exploring what Adelaide has to offer and sharing my experiences and discoveries with others via WeekendNotes!
Published February 21st 2018
A ghost story about the devastation of the Winchester rifle

Please note this review contains minor spoilers.

Winchester is a supernatural thriller directed by The Spierig Brothers (Predestination and Jigsaw) and written by Tom Vaughan and The Spierig Brothers. Its run time is 99 minutes and film locations include the original and still existing Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. To this day, Winchester Mystery House is reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in the world. Watching this movie and being taken inside some of its many rooms, I can understand why.

This movie explores one of the many theories behind the bizarre architectural obsession of the reclusive Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) - heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and grieving widow of William Wirt Winchester and their daughter Annie, who passed away a month after birth.

Winchester is set in 1906, when this Queen Anne-style Victorian mansion had over 7 floors comprising over 160 rooms and covers the time period when the San Francisco earthquake destroyed a good part of the mansion.

Dr Eric Price (Jason Clarke) is appointed by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to visit with Sarah, in her residence for one week, to assess her mental capacity for ongoing management of the company. Residing with Sarah is her niece Marion Marriott (Sarah Snook) and Marion's son Henry (Finn Scicluna-O'Prey).

The Spierig Brothers and Vaughan have obviously researched the many mysteries and theories behind Sarah Winchester and her expansive mansion to bring audiences an intriguing version of a genuinely grieving Sarah haunted by ghosts of victims who died at the hand of a Winchester repeater rifle, including Dr Price's own wife, Ruby. The audience is taken on a journey with Dr Price as he transforms from sceptic to believer.

It soon becomes evident there is a malevolent force at work as Henry becomes possessed and tries to end his own life and at one stage, Sarah's. It is up to Sarah and Dr Price to capture this ghost and return her mansion to some level of safety and sanity. It turns out she selected Eric for a particular reason: he can see the dead too!

The movie features many elements of the real Winchester Mystery House's unique architecture, including Sarah's application of the number 13 - using 13 nails to lock in reluctant ghosts in their rooms.

Helen Mirren is convincing as the spiritually haunted Sarah Winchester, as is the line up of Australian talent, including Jason Clarke and Sarah Snook.

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*Jenny Pickett was invited as a guest
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Why? If you enjoy a good ghost story, Winchester's for you
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