My notes on Winchester:
1. Popularly known as “the house that spirits built”, the Winchester mansion in California looked every bit the oddity that you would expect from its ghost architects. With seven storeys and over a hundred rooms, it was meant to both please and distract the entities haunting that place. There were secret rooms, doors that led to nowhere, early intercoms that utilized pipes, thirteen (supposedly a lucky number) items in every room, and weird staircases meant to assist the house owner Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) who was suffering from arthritis.
It was an ongoing construction for over forty years that only ceased upon Mrs. Winchester’s death. Now open for public viewing as a popular tourist spot, I would certainly want to visit the place and squeeze my brain out wondering how much staff and how long it took to actually clean the entire house. I might even bring my own bottle of Lysol.
2. Even with such an interesting history, the movie itself failed to capture the mystery surrounding the house and its occupants. It relied on the usual scare techniques that would only work on people that had never actually seen a horror film. Reflections of ghosts in a mirror, a character looking under the bed to check creaking noises, demons that peek in keyholes and in between door spaces, tired tired tired. One character mentioned that “fear is all in the mind”, but no matter how much I opened myself up to getting scared silly, it just never worked.
3. The great Mirren was the only reason why I even bothered with this. Caligula aside, I don’t think I had ever seen her in a horror movie. The closest would have to be the execrable Teaching Mrs. Tingle, which was still surprisingly much better than this one.
I seriously wish she was paid handsomely for this project because it seemed like the budget for the script was given to her instead. At least it was fun seeing her look like she was ready for Halloween 2018 as wedding belle Ivy Aguas.
4. Every time I hear “laudanum”, it would always be in the voice of Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, coyly telling Lestat that it “keeps the blood warm”. Hey, now that was a great horror movie! Time to revisit.
5. Oh, this also served as a propaganda flick against gun violence. One character actually mentioned that guns were evil because they were instruments of death. I found it really odd then that the ghost (no, not Charlton Heston) sought revenge by using a rifle. In turn, he was vanquished back to the afterlife after getting shot. So anti-gun laws or what?
6. Wait, was the falling nail during the final scene audaciously even hinting at a possible sequel? Que horror!!