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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Winchester 2018 * * Stars

WinchesterDirectors: The Spierig Brothers
Year: 2018
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Jason Clarke, Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook

The setting is San Jose, CA in 1906. A widow named Sarah Winchester believes she's being haunted by ghosts in her swank, reconstructed mansion. Fearing that she is mentally ill, a doctor named Eric Pence is sent in to give her a psychiatric evaluation. Oh and there's a creepy kid relative that's sometimes being controlled by evil spirits. Oscar winner Helen Mirren plays the wealthy Sarah while Zero Dark Thirty's Jason Clarke plays the unissued Pence. That's the gist of Winchester, my latest review.

Image result for Winchester 2018 movie scenesWinchester has the excitement level of an episode of Ghost Adventures (ugh). It's not very lucid as a true story, it contains familiar fright tropes, and it's rather blase in the overall approach. Basically Winchester is ninety-nine minutes of humdrum horror fare. The Spierig Brothers (twins Peter and Michael) dig to try to recreate the dimmed corridors of something like 2001's The Others. They direct Winchester with fair haunted house lighting, a slight sense atmospheric dread, and a determined eye for setting up shots. Don't confuse them with the Coen brothers though. Their film although well cast, throbs with a held back, frivolous PG-13 rating. It never quite lifts off.

Winchester while old-fashioned in its ghostly look, relies heavily on weak jump scares (with tired, pouncing music) and systematic jolts. The pic sometimes comes off as funny rather than frightening. It doesn't help that lead Mirren chews scenery while constantly dressed in widowed, black cloak. Her jittery character is habitually scripted. She's more like a glaring horror parody than anything else.

Image result for Winchester 2018 movie scenesAll in all, Winchester is pretty vapid as its supernatural happenings scarcely go bump bump in the night. This vehicle probably could've benefited from a surprise ending made to revitalize the pulse of your average moviegoer. Where the greatest demonic possession flicks announce themselves as cinematic prime rib, Winchester is more like your average skirt steak at Ponderosa. The Exorcist it ain't. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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