Where the dead stay for free!

J ust how expensive is Bay Area real estate? Winchester tours are currently $39 a pop. That’s essentially concert ticket admission price for what amounts to an open house. Geez. It’s not even near a BART line … and the school district? Are you kidding me?

Gotta love movies. Here’s one vociferously arguing that Sarah Winchester, a woman who spent the last four decades of her life focused entirely on repairing/rebuilding her house, was not a lunatic. Why would you want contractors in your life 24/7? Is it really better than ghosts? No, no. I want you to explain this one. If you have a choice of ghosts or teams of independent contractors haunting your enormous estate round the clock, which would you choose?

Oh, I seem to have missed the point. The contractors build for the ghosts, so that you can have them both around at the same time. Why that’s just brilliant. Maybe it works if you build a house so elaborate a Uruguayan rugby team could get lost in it and turn to cannibalism.

Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) is haunted by the ghosts of Red Ryder past. The Winchester rifle made a fortune for the family and now the ghosts of the victims have come back to haunt her. Geez, ghosts, didn’t you hear? Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Your haunting philosophy is so last century. And speaking of last century, in San Jose of 1906, Sarah was doing something darn positive for the homeless ghost population by constantly recreating rooms for them to chill. Specifically, these are recreations of the rooms they died in. How this bring catharsis to a ghost, I’m not sure. Then again, I’m not quite dead.

Meanwhile, in nearby earthquake-rife San Francisco, Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) is a fraud. He even says so. Hey, I’m not disagreeing. Since the death of his wife, Eric’s specialties seem to be self-experimental pharmacology and second-rate illusions. “Oooooo, is that dollar really floating?” The bank folks want to take control of the Winchester fortune. This can happen if a doctor officially fingers aunt Sarah as a nutball. Hence, the specifically summoned Dr. Price gets to know the way to San Jose.

I’m really not sure if the ghosts or the constant hammering would bother me more. The world’s dullest saw didn’t help any, either. Dude, if you want to finish cutting, you may need a genuine cutting tool.

The scares in Winchester are almost all of the “thing jumping out at you” variety … that and Helen Mirren’s acting. Is there anything scarier than an Oscar winner opting for a paycheck? Mirren’s phone-it-in here is pretty ugly. You know, I wanted to say she Morse-Coded-it-in here, but the phone had indeed been invented by this point in time. Let’s just say she Alexander-Graham-Belled-it-in. Anyway, point is when movies are out to scare with mirror sneaks, the message is obvious: STOP PEEKING AT STUFF. It is all quite a shame because the gift of being the sole release in a given week is rare indeed. Sucks when you don’t even deserve to last that week.

♪Well since my baby shot me
I found a new haunt to dwell
It’s south of Oaktown and Market Street
At Headache Hotel

They hammer so noisy, baby, It pounds in my head.
Were I not dead I think I’d die. ♫

Rated PG-13, 99 Minutes
Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Writer: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Tom Vaughan
Genre: Diary of a concierge
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Winchester Mystery House curators
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: The ungrateful dead

♪ Parody Inspired by “Heartbreak Hotel”

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