Kat May is a lover of horror, having viewed multiple films over most of her life. She enjoys watching and writing about her thoughts on them
Inspiration For The Movie
Having an interest in the paranormal and history, I did a bit of research on Sarah Winchester and her story long before the movie came out.
Sarah Winchester married the owner (Oliver Winchester) of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company's son- William Wirt Winchester. William was the treasurer of the company until his death of tuberculosis in early 1881. His widow, Sarah, inherited half of the company, as well as millions of dollars. Her inheritance made her a very rich woman. However, what she did with the money would not be considered a normal investment.
With her inheritance, Sarah Winchester began to expand her home in San Jose, California. She continued to build rooms, hallways, and staircases throughout her time living in the home. The house includes stairways that stop at a wall or ceiling, doors that lead to nowhere, and hidden halls and rooms. The construction stopped on September 5, 1922- the date of her death.
However, why did she do this? It is believed this was done to appease the spirits that were shot and killed by Winchester rifles. The more she built, the more the spirits would be confused- and more likely to leave her alone. She was instructed to do this by a "medium" shortly after the death of her husband (tuberculosis) and daughter (marasmus).
A Synopsis (Spoilers!)
The beginning of the movie starts with Dr. Eric Price being informed of Sarah Winchester. The doctor is told that she was informed by a medium to continue building because of spirits haunting her. The doctor is instructed to perform an evaluation on Sarah. Upon arriving at the house, he meets Marion and Henry Mariott- Sarah Winchester's niece and great nephew.
Marion explains the rules of the house, and etiquette when meeting and speaking to her aunt. Dr. Price first meets Sarah Winchester at a formal dinner, at which Marion and Henry are also present. Throughout the movie, Dr. Price has several encounters with spirits- however, he believes they are not real. His colleagues expect him to write a report proving that Sarah Winchester is not in the right mindset to keep her late husband's fortune and inheritance.
Over time, we discover that Dr. Eric Price was shot and killed by a Winchester rifle, but was revived. His wife was also, but her wounds were proven fatal. This fact connects Dr. Price to the Winchester house, and is the reason why he can see the spirits. The only other person who can see them is Sarah Winchester.
Along with Dr. Price's situation, Sarah Winchester is dealing with a spirit of her own. It is revealed that there is an over-arching negative spirit in the Winchester property. This spirit ends up gaining the ability to possess Henry Mariott. As a result, to keep herself and her family safe- Sarah Winchester locks Marion, Henry, and Dr. Price in the Mariott's bedroom with thirteen nails. This is when Marion Mariott reveals that she believes Sarah Winchester is delusional, and has to find a way for her and her son Henry to escape.
It is also revealed that rooms are built for particular spirits- and then torn down once that particular spirit's problems and issues are resolved. As this is revealed, it is also revealed that the spirits take over Sarah Winchester's body in a way, and draw up the plans to rooms, halls, and stairs for her. Then once that is complete, Sarah instructs her builders to create what was in the plans. The greenhouse turns out to be Dr. Eric Price's room. It is torn down near the end of the movie once he remembers how he was killed and revived, and how he lost his wife. At the same time, he also believes in the spirits and what Sarah believes about the Winchester house.
Thoughts on the Movie (Spoilers!)
I went into the movie hoping that it would show a bit more of Sarah Winchester's experience. Because of this, I found myself a bit disappointed with the film.
I was hoping to see, in the beginning- Sarah Winchester's meeting with a "medium", whom instructed her to keep building to appease the spirits. However, this was not the case- as viewers are just shown a conversation between Dr. Eric Price and his supposed boss. In this conversation, it is explained that Sarah Winchester has seen a "medium" after the death of her husband and daughter, and was instructed to continue to build. Dr. Price's boss instructed him to write a report proving that Sarah Winchester was lacking sanity, and that it was not right for her to keep her inheritance from her husband's passing.
My second disappointment was that this movie was heavily reliant on jump-scares. Even then, the jump scares were obviously CGI spirits, or something of that sort. They were not scary in the slightest. In my opinion, jump scares are overly done in horror- and have lost their effect on viewers.
Other than the jump-scares, I did not find the movie scary in general. In order for a horror movie to be good, or even great in my eyes- it has to scare me and keep me awake for at least a night. The only thing that kept me paying attention to the movie was when something big happened. For example, when Henry Mariott became possessed, and attempted to kill Sarah Winchester with a rifle. Or, when Dr. Price remembered and experienced how him and his wife were killed by a Winchester rifle- although he survived. During other scenes, I found myself multitasking and working on a different project.
I also found myself not liking the part when it was revealed that Sarah Winchester obtained patterns for rooms by automatic writing. As someone who has had a life-long interest, and is a believer in the paranormal- I take automatic writing with a grain of salt. I also do not believe this is how Sarah Winchester obtained room plans in real life. However, movies have the right to add fictitious plot points.
In conclusion, I feel as though the movie would have been more horrifying if done differently. I also feel as though it could have stayed closer to Sarah Winchester's reality. However, the story of everything that went on in the movie drew my attention (even though it failed to keep it).
I do recommend watching this movie, but it is not for those who are looking to be scared or drawn into the plot completely.
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© 2021 Kat May