Imagine being the person behind an ingenious invention only for it to be used for nefarious deeds.
There must be a reason why guns were first thought of and invented. Centuries from now, that very weapon is responsible for taking away thousands of lives and most of them innocent ones.
Winchester is a movie about the Winchesters, particularly Sarah Winchester- a widow who has inherited a company that brings in profits but also the burden of being responsible for the killings caused by the rifles.
We are at first introduced to a doctor who has chosen to abuse medication as an escape from his tragic past. He is always in the company of women, always high and resorts to cheap parlor tricks to impress everyone.
When he is called upon by a staff member of the Winchester company, the doctor doesn’t realize that it is Sarah herself who has employed him to evaluate her mental state.
Sarah lives with her niece and his son in a large house which grows day by day. As legend has it, she made sure the construction of the house would continue even into the night. Till date, the real Winchester mansion has around 160 rooms though no one can be a hundred percent sure.
Cut back to the story, the doctor immediately comes face to face with a ghost but blames it on the drugs he has been using.
Sarah is a resilient, strong woman who always wears black. She’s not only mourning the loss of her husband but is forever cursed to grieve the loss of lives caused due to the guns she sells.
As the bell strikes midnight, the souls only get stronger and take possession of Sarah who starts drawing up plans for the room. In the morning, they are submitted to the construction workers who work on it immediately.
Sarah states it is the souls who compel her to build a room like the one they had died in because of her gun. She builds it, lets the soul live in it until they are ready to forgive her and let go of their regrets. Thirteen nails are put on each door but once the soul is ready, they are let go.
The doctor is convinced she is senile until he realizes the antagonistic butler in the house is actually a powerful enraged soul who wants revenge. He blames the madam for causing the deaths of his brothers by the rifle.
The doctor realizes he has been seeing ghosts because of his near-death experience. Secrets are revealed and his comes forth--he had been accidentally shot by his wife who was losing her sanity. Afterward, she kills herself but the doctor survives and carries the bullet with him in his pocket.
The vengeful soul of the soldier possesses the niece’s son and it is up to his mother to let go of her fear of being alone. She stands before her son, ready to defend and the ghost goes over to Sarah. But the doctor is ready for him. In the ensuing fight, he realizes that it is not the gun that the soldier killed himself with but the bullet the doctor carries with his that the ghost is afraid of. The fact that the doctor carries it as a memento of his love, gives the weapon a quality of purity and forgiveness.
The engraved bullet is inserted in the rifle and shot at the ghost. The fight is won and the movie ends with the doctor giving Sarah Winchester a clean bill of health.
But uh-oh, in the end, we are shown a nail falling off on its own from a door. Sequel?
For me, Winchester was a movie that wastes a great opportunity to submit real scares. The concept is great, the acting amazing, the direction pretty good but when it comes out to execute the meaty parts of the movie, it fails miserably.
Lots of people died from the guns. Several tormented spirits are forever bound to their anger. There should have been more thrilling moments, one that scares the doctor to his wit's end and convinces him that there is truly something evil in the house.
Yet, all we are given are morsels of jump scares and people in terrible makeup. What could have been a truly watchable experience in terms of horror, becomes time wasted watching a drama as the doctor comes to terms with his own misery.
Hundreds of ghosts in one house and not one manages to be frightening.
Scare scale: 1.5/5