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

My interest was in what these actors would do in a genre film of this kind. I judge that it's not much. Which is OK, as it's mainly about the story. And the SFX.
It's a special cast. Helen Mirren is pretty close to being literally an icon, such is the significance of her career. Sarah Snook is one the best film actresses of her generation in Australia, if not in the world. Jason Clarke is a hard-working actor in a narrowish range of chacterisation. I started to pay attention to him in Swerve, when I predicted (to myself) he would have a solid career. Bruce Spence (born 1945) is an essential part of the establishment of Australian cinema (another 'icon'), and Angus Simpson might be joining him.

Dave Alridge, RadioTimes:
Blending historical fact with large dollops of horror fiction, this luridly entertaining story of "the most haunted house in the world" stars Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, the widowed heiress to the repeating-rifle fortune. Believing herself to be haunted by the ghosts of the gun's many victims, guilt-racked Sarah ploughed her money into the non-stop, four-decade-long build of a higgledy-piggledy home in which to house them. Her "spirit" building, all seven floors and 500 rooms of it, still exists. It's a big California tourist draw. Dressed in widow's weeds and patently channelling the spirit of Great Expectations's Miss Havisham, Mirren nicely overplays Sarah with the straight face such movies demand. Taking it equally seriously is co-star Jason Clarke. He's the psychiatrist brought in by the concerned gun company to judge Sarah's mental state, but who begins questioning his own sanity as crazy stuff starts oozing from the house's many nooks and crannies. The Spierig brothers' film depends rather too much on contrived jump scares, and offers little new to titillate the hardened horror fan. But it's a slick, decently made and enjoyably daft watch, with the main surprise being that it took predominantly Australian money and talent to bring such a quintessentially American story to the screen. Dave Alridge, RadioTimes.

Simon Abrams:
... 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.

Winchester house, 2004, from Wikipedia

References and Links

The second image, from Wikipedia, is of Sarah Winchester. The third is of her house 'today'.
Wikipedia article on the 'Winchester Mystery House'.
Wikipedia article on Sarah Winchester.
Wikipedia page for this film.
Wikipedia article on Jason Clarke.
Wikipedia article on Bruce Spence.

Garry Gillard | New: 16 August, 2018 | Now: 18 October, 2021