Dir. Michael and Peter Spierig
Dame Helen Mirren hasn’t been in a horror film since geriatric striptease Calendar Girls, so she’s proving quite a draw for this otherwise humdrum gothic thriller.
She plays Sarah Winchester, a widow in the 20th century California suburbs, who’s quite literally haunted by the victims of a rifle she invented. Jason Clarke plays a psychiatrist drafted in to assess her mental capability to run an arms company, but he’s a drug addict and is barely capable of tying his own shoelaces.
To make things worse, the ghosts keep telling Winchester to spend her rifle swag adding extensions to her mansion, so the builders are constantly in, too.
As supernatural flicks go, this is standard fare; creaky doors, faces in mirrors, loud bangs in quiet moments. Props to the props department, though; the detail put into creating the labyrinthine house make it the most interesting character in the story.
Yet, without a real sense of jeopardy, this fable about the consequences of gun violence was always destined to misfire.