Winchester (2018): Review by Kush Hayes
Other names for this movie could be:
The South Shall Rise (From the Grave)
Ghostbusters (with Bullets)
San Francisco Should Sue The Winchester Family
Growing up in San Francisco, there’s always two dates that are jack hammered into your psyche, both for the same reason, Earthquakes. Earthquakes in 1989 and then earlier in 1906.
So when the opening title card displays “San Jose California. 1906”, my immediate thought was “I wonder if this is before or after the earthquake?” There’s too much construction going on around the house so it’s unclear. And upon a temporary possession of someone who inevitable turns out to be the youngest Winchester, we are taken up the bay to “San Francisco California”. Again, the earthquake is on your (my) mind and there seems to be no damage to anything in the background and then dialogue happens to distract you from that detail where we meet Jason Clarkes character who is a doctor, and based on the amount of half naked women doped up around his house, a very popular doctor.
If you’re not from the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re oblivious to these details and just amused with what you’re seeing from our protagonist. Maybe.
The good doctor, is visited by a lawyer from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company who is requesting Dr Clarke take a horse-drawn carriage down the unpaved 101 to San Jose to evaluate the mental well being of The Widow Winchester, but you can call her Sarah.
Upon face value its not impossible to see why the company wants her sanity evaluated and you feel for the nonsense Dr Clarke has to go through to earn his $600. The company even sends a letter to Dr Clarke, at the mansion, that requests he complete his evaluation as soon as possible. Despite the fact that he was just hired maybe 4 days before this letter, making me think this scene is only in the movie to reveal the date of “April 14”, which if you’re not from the Bay Area, this date means nothing to you.
The longer Dr Clarke stays in the Winchester mansion, he starts believing Sarah more and more. Jump scare after jump scare reveals things that Dr Clarke can only see. Through trial and error and exposition we find out that Dr Clarke has a link to the “house that ghosts built” and is the only one who can help Sarah reverse the Curse of the Winchester Mansion.
This leads to a climax that violently shakes the house, splitting it in various parts, collapsing floors and killing a few employees. Because 99% of this movie has only taken place in this house you think this is pretty much only happening here. However once our feature has concluded we are privileged to a title card that displays three bullet points, the top one being
“The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was one of the most destructive natural disasters in history.”
The Spierig Brothers, put a lot of energy in this movie, you can see it in the details of the set piece, you can hear it in the composition by Peter Spierig. The Spierigs before this did the newest movie in the Saw Franchise, Jigsaw, the also did the 2009 Ethan Hawke Vampire movie Daybreakers. The Saw Franchise lost me after part 3 but I did enjoy the premise of Daybreakers.
However we are talking about Winchester. To sum it up, great actors, giving a good performance. Fantastic set piece. I thought the ending was dumb but I’ll go along with it so that our 100 minute feature doesn’t bleed into 120 mins. Lots of jump scares. Mere flashes of gore that are much worse in your imagination than what’s displayed on screen.
It was much better than I thought this would be going in, however that’s only enough for me to give it:
3 out of 6 Blueberries.