“Winchester” is a historical disappointment

The story of Sarah Winchester and her home is an incredible one, but “Winchester,” a horror adaptation, falls flat and pushes the boundary too far, a result that truly didn’t seem possible until now.

“Winchester,” a 2018 supernatural horror film, follows the iconic Sarah Winchester as she is haunted by spirits inside her San Jose mansion in 1906.

The story behind the Winchester mansion is an incredible one. Sarah was an American heiress who amassed great wealth after the death of her husband, who was the holder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

She was convinced she was cursed by the spirits killed by the Winchester rifle and the only way to alleviate it was to continue to build onto her California home. The house features a variety of oddities, including doors that open to walls, a staircase that leads to nowhere and the recurring number 13, whether in window panes or the number of candles on a chandelier.

This story is the basis of the film, but it is merely glossed over. The psychological illness that plagued Sarah and her building decisions are much more sinister than the generic ghost story that was created from the mansion’s history.

The character development was mediocre, if there at all. The character Eric Price, a psychiatrist hired to evaluate Sarah, is the only character that receives an ounce of development.

Truly, Sarah Winchester should have stayed the floating being dressed in black that she was in the first moments of the film, rather than make her overwhelmingly relatable and human. She has an interesting history and an interesting mindset. This was a detail that directors simply seemed to overlook.

But as a horror movie, it adds up. There are great jump scares and a story that makes sense. It just seems to be an even bigger disappointment considering where this film could have been taken.

There is something that is so much scarier about not knowing whether this haunting is real or not, rather than it being an obvious fact right from the beginning. A psychological horror film is what “Winchester” rightfully should have been. Instead, the directors opted for an overwhelmingly generic horror plot.

The dialogue creates an irritating amount of clarity. Any piece of information that would be better left up to the viewer to figure out is plainly described more than once.

Arguably, the scariest part of a horror movie is the unknown. Not seeing the monster or not knowing what will happen next is much scarier than the characters explaining exactly what their next plan of action will be or seeing the monster or being that is meant to frighten us.

“Winchester” certainly has a habit of keeping everything crystal clear. All of the facts are laid out, and the ghosts are a visual piece of the film from the very beginning, with very few and foreseeable plot twists.

Overall, “Winchester” truly is just another horror film. It may be added to Netflix and a handful of teenagers may go out of their way to watch it next Halloween. But, what the film could have been truly makes it a great horror, and historical, disappointment.

Rating: 2/5