Winchester Parent Guide
Based on the curious life of Sarah Winchester, the movie Interleaving just enough truth to leave us wondering if the unbelievable is believable.
Parent Movie Review
Was Sarah Lockwood Winchester, the widow of gun maker William Winchester, crazy? Does she actually see the ghosts of the many who died from the use of his rifles? And are they really directing her to build endless rooms onto her sprawling California mansion?
Interleaving just enough truth to leave us wondering if the unbelievable is believable, the movie Winchester takes us inside what is still one of San Jose, California’s most visited tourist attractions. The 24 hour a day, 7 days a week construction of the rambling Winchester House, an architectural mess of dozens of bedrooms, with hallways and staircases leading to nowhere, began in the 1880s. By 1906, when the film begins its story, the domicile is seven stories high with about 90 rooms.
Helen Mirren plays Sarah, who still owns half of her husband’s company. The heiress has the habit of chatting with the deceased while rambling through the corridors of her home and locking misbehaving entities into bedrooms barred shut with 13 nails. Meanwhile, back at the firing range, the directors of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company would like nothing more than to have the woman declared insane. After all, a major shareholder convinced her company’s flagship product is evil, can’t be good for business. Yet it will take just the right sort of disreputable doctor to make the judgement call – and the board is happy to supply a bribe.
Eric Price (Jason Clarke) may call himself a physician, but the San Francisco resident’s favorite remedy is the highly-addictive laudanum. His own abuse of the drug provides recurring visions of his late wife who was a victim of a self-inflicted gunshot (yes, from a Winchester weapon). It doesn’t take much persuasion for Eric to accept the offer to take a trip to the countryside and have Sarah committed.
The outcome of having a stoned shrink spend a few days with a haunted heiress in a dark and spooky mansion is the stuff classic Hollywood horror flicks are made of – and this script hits all the bases. Jump scenes are plentiful, along with glimpses of ghoulish faces. These metaphysical confrontations ramp up for a big finale (that just happens to coincide with an historical earthquake). The depictions become increasingly intense and include scenes of a mass shooting and others being taken down by Winchester’s bullets. As well, there is the portrayal of a young boy, presumably possessed, who falls from a rooftop.
While lacking in creativity, Winchester still has enough blind corners to keep you wondering what’s around the next one. Also, it is nearly clear of profanities and sexual content. Depending on parents’ tolerance of the violent conclusion (an ironic ending for a movie that seems to be taking its own shot at lax gun laws), older teens may find this haunted house entertaining enough to be worth a visit.Directed by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig. Starring Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Helen Mirren. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release February 2, 2018. Updated February 2, 2018
Rating & Content Info
Why is Winchester rated PG-13? Winchester is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence, disturbing images, drug content, some sexual material and thematic elements.
Violence: A character enters a workplace and begins shooting people, we see many gunned down on screen. A character shoots another and then appears to shoot him/herself (this is not seen on screen). A character is shot at multiple times and is then briefly beaten with a gun. A child walks off a high ledge on a home and falls into the arms of another character who has run to the rescue – we later learn this child was possessed by a spirit. Frequent scenes suddenly depict ghoulish images with the intent to scare the audience. A medical professional accepts a bribe with the intent of biasing a psychological assessment. Frequent depictions of metaphysical and spiritual apparitions in a violent or confrontational context.
Sexual Content: Embracing and kissing. A female character is seen with an unbuttoned top.
Profanity: Infrequent use of mild cursing, profanity, vulgar expressions, and sexual slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A principal character is addicted laudanum, we see its use repeatedly. A secondary character is also seen using laudanum. A principal character is a heavy alcohol user and begs for it in one scene. Brief tobacco used is depicted.
Page last updated February 2, 2018
More parents' guide for Winchester after the break...
Winchester Parents' Guide
A character in this movie repeatedly uses laudanum, a very popular drug that was believed to be a cure-all for many ailments. Unfortunately the formula was based on opium and was relatively inexpensive, which led many people to unwittingly become addicted to it, including many famous authors and artists. While we may look upon this era and wonder how they could not have seen this problem, what substances does our society make light of today? What have we learned about tobacco since its introduction? What may we learn about marijuana?
News About "Winchester"
This movie was perviously called Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built.
Oliver Fisher Winchester, founder of the company, really did make a fortune manufacturing guns. Learn more about this history.
The character featured in this movie, Sarah Lockwood Winchester, is based on the daughter-in-law of Oliver Winchester. (In other words, she married his only son, William Wirt Winchester.) After the deaths of both Oliver and William, Sarah became one of the wealthiest heiress in the world.
Yet for all her money, Sarah's life was filled with tragedy. Legend says she believed herself to be cursed. As her years as a childless widow went on, she became increasingly obsessed with renovating her large home. The quirky, colossal building still stands. With the help of a few ghost stories and the public's natural curiosity, the Winchester Mystery House is open for tours. The making of this film will undoubtedly bring further attention to the tourist attraction.