Winchester (Michael & Peter Spierig, 2018) Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Jason Clarke, Angus Sampson; thriller; released 22Feb18

Synopsis: On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant 24-hour a day, seven days a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. 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.

... Winchester leveled my unfair expectations simply by being silly and fun. Most of the film is genuinely atmospheric, thanks especially to the omnipresent construction noises (hammers on chisels, saws through planks) that surround the house. And there are some well-choreographed setpieces, particularly the one where a rifle slowly but surely fires right next to Mirren's head. Clarke gives one of his best performances to date, and even the expository dialogue is florid enough to be enjoyable. Finally: who could resist an eccentrically baroque haunted house brought to life without computer-generated imagery? What Winchester lacks in originality its creators make up for in execution. Simon Abrams.

Garry Gillard | New: 16 August, 2018 | Now: 17 August, 2018