Ensconced in her sprawling California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle. Inspired by true events, the Winchester house is claimed to be the most haunted house in the world. Winchester house sits on an isolated stretch of land that’s 50 miles outside of San Francisco.
Built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester fortune, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms, the house has been under construction for decades. But heiress Sarah Winchester did not build this house for herself, or her niece, or even the troubled doctor she has summoned. She is building it as an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts. To an outsider, it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But Sarah’s actually building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters.
Our story begins in 1906 with one of the main protagonists, Dr. Eric Price, played by Jason Clarke, a drug-addicted psychoanalyst who believes the mind is very capable of playing tricks on people. He also refuses to believe anything he can’t see and is still grieving after the recent death of his wife, who was also addicted to drugs and ended up shooting him and then shooting herself. Dr. Prive has just been hired by the Board of Directors of the Winchester Rifle Company to evaluate their boss and shareholder, Sarah Winchester. What they’re really hoping for is that she is declared crazy so they can take over her house and her business.
We next see Dr. Price traveling by stagecoach from his home in San Francisco to San Jose to spend a week with Mrs. Winchester in the dark and dreary Winchester house. He is greeted by Mrs. Winchesters’ very disapproving niece, Marion, who has a young son named Henry. Henry is definitely odd, to say the least, and seems to be prone to strange sleepwalking spells. It then cuts to scan the huge house with hard-working men surrounding the house, running all around the yard, up on scaffolding, sawing lumber and fitting boards, constantly, day and night, as the bell in its tower clangs every midnight. There are entire hallways that are bordered by doors and bolted shut from the outside, and cupboards conceal secret doorways.
Sarah, our housemistress seems to be in perpetual mourning by the looks of her, she is always shown wearing a black lace veil. The odd thing is, she doesn’t actually seem to be all that crazy to Price. In fact, she’s astonishingly intelligent and articulate, even when she talks about creating a sanctuary for the spirits of the dead, while keeping the more ‘unruly spirits’, as she calls them, locked away. We also see her in a trance-like state one night, while making automatic architectural drawings. There’s a vibe of earnest and eerie elegance about it all. To me, the movie is more creepy than scary, but it no doubt has its moments. We are offered no blood or gore, no cussing or swearing, and no sexual content. There is, however, a good bit of violence.
I was excited about seeing this film because I had watched a documentary on the Winchester House years ago, and I even got to visit the house a few years ago. They did say the movie was “inspired by” so anyone looking for the history of Mrs. Winchester and her mesmerizing home will be disappointed because this movie won’t be offering that. However, I do believe that if any of you ever get the chance to visit this incredible house you should do just that. Believe me, it will be greatly worth it, it’s an amazing and very interesting place. Hereditary is no doubt a very creepy film that you will be able to enjoy with the whole family. To me, they need to make more horror films like this. Check it out now!
Release Date: February 2, 2018
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Directors: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig
Reviewed by: Kathryn Price
Our Rating: 4.4 /5
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