Helen Mirren is one of the most decorated actresses of all time, having won an Academy Award, Tony Award, and multiple Emmy Awards. She also stars in Winchester, an upcoming horror movie that’s very, very loosely based on a famous real-life “haunted” house. Helen Mirren seems like a lot of fun, and I mean that sincerely.
The trailer, which came out on Tuesday, claims to be based on a true story, as pretty much all horror movies portend to be. The truth behind the premise is actually pretty interesting. In 1884, Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, began construction of a massive house outside of San Francisco. Legend has it that Winchester, who was into spiritualism and the occult, feared it was haunted by the ghosts of people who had been killed by Winchester guns, and only non-stop building could appease them. Official sources dispute the commonly held notion that she had architects build 24/7 for 38 years, but the resulting house is a weird mess. There was no building plan, and stairways lead to nowhere while doors open directly into a two-story drop. It’s a fun tourist destination, if you’re ever in the area.
Anyway, the movie takes the spooky aspects of the tale and runs with them, resulting in a movie that’s more about actual ghosts than it is about bizarre architecture. It looks like a pretty standard haunted house movie with two things going for it. The first is the cool, real-life house it’s based on, and the second is Helen Mirren, who is slumming it in this movie for some reason. Good for her.
The trailer ends with what’s actually a pretty good jump scare — a subversion of the classic mirror scare — so Winchester might end up being a fun enough watch.