I’ve never been particularly enamoured of (most) horror-centric film sites. I’ve read enough reviews that disregard the sloppy writing and inept acting of a Z-grade slasher homage to single out an inventive kill or two to not need to read anymore. Horror fans have spent enough times in the dredges of their favoured sub-genre to lack any kind of critical compass; I appreciate it, but it doesn’t make for insightful writing.
Thing is, Winchester has clarified for me that – when it comes to haunted house movies at least – I’m precisely one of those horror fans. The Spierig Brothers’ latest, concerning ghosts in the famously haunted Winchester mansion and populated by Helen Mirren and a sizable contingent of Aussie character actors, has been met with a wave of terrible reviews.
And, look, it probably deserves them! Executed with the Spierigs’ trademark cheap competence (these boys really pump them out), there’s nothing to distinguish Winchester from its haunted house forebears. Even the setting – an expansive mansion being constantly rebuilt – is barely exploited for its creepy potential. But, if I’m honest … I didn’t really care. There were some effective jump scares and a coherent enough story. I guess that’s enough for me?