Aw, it sounded so promising. Helen Mirren bringing a little Hammer glamour to the role of Sarah Winchester, the real-life heir to the Winchester rifle fortune who built a real-life Mystery Mansion in San Jose, supposedly at the behest of a spiritual medium. Jason Clarke as the skeptical Man of Science whose perceptions of reality may be clouded by both his grief over a lost spouse and his bottle of laudanum. And a deadly curse born from the fortune made from dealing in death-dealing devices. (The Winchester was a significant enough rifle to get its own Jimmy Stewart movie.) Let the guilt and dread and spooky atmospherics and oh, yes, ensuing madness commence! Wait, no? Jump scares? Child possession? Great chunks of dialogue from a star who doesn’t seem altogether present? An exceedingly tenuous invocation of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906? More jump scares? Oh well. Directed by the Spierig Brothers. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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