Winchester Information

Winchester (also known as Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built) is a 2018 supernatural horror film directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, and written by the Spierigs and Tom Vaughn. The film stars Helen Mirren as heiress Sarah Winchester, with Jason Clarke and Sarah Snook, and follows Winchester as she is haunted by spirits inside her San Jose mansion in 1906.

An American-Australian co-production, the film was released in the United States on February 2, 2018 and is scheduled to be released in Australia on February 22, 2018. It received negative reviews from critics, who called it "dull" and "pointless".


Sarah Winchester is the widow of famed gun manufacturer William Winchester. Her husband's sudden death and the previous death of their child Annie have left her in severe grief. Having received a more than $20-million dollar inheritance gained from her husband's business, Winchester convinces herself she is cursed by the ghosts of those who died at the hands of Winchester firearms. After seeking advice from a medium, Winchester begins building an enormous, seemingly never-ending mansion in San Jose, California that would eventually be named the Winchester Mystery House. The house is under constant construction and Sarah's relative Marion Marriott lives in the house with her son Henry. At night, Henry is possessed by a mysterious entity.

In 1906, the Winchester company hire doctor Eric Prince to assess Sarah believing she is mentally unfit to remain in charge of the company. Eric is grieving from the death of his wife Ruby and reliant on drugs he has procured from his profession. Eric arrives at the house where he meets Marion. Marion is initially dismissive of Eric. While preparing for dinner, Eric is startled by a ghostly vision but believes it is side effects of the drugs he has taken. After a tense dinner with Sarah, Marion and Henry, the group return to their rooms for the night. Eric leaves his room, spotting a ghost in the basement and goes outside for air, finding the garden room boarded up. Eric then witnesses a possessed Henry jump off the roof of the building. Eric saves Henry which is witnessed by Marion and Sarah.

The next day, Eric begins to conduct his assessment of Sarah's mental well-being. Sarah admits her fear of ghosts and believes she can help them move on. Sarah also reveals that she knows about Eric's drug problem and confiscates them before moving him to a different room. That night, Eric leaves his room and witnesses a seemingly possessed Sarah draw a plan for a new room. He is startled by an entity and flees back to his room. The next day Sarah shows Eric that she keeps records of people killed by Winchester rifles. It is revealed that Eric had actually been shot and killed by a Winchester rifle before being revived and keeps the bullet with him. Sarah explains how 13 nails keep spirits sealed in rooms and how she intends to help a particularly violent spirit that she has encountered. A room filled with Winchester rifles has its construction finished.

Eric visits Marion, who does not believe in the ghosts that Sarah does. While they talk, a possessed Henry breaks out of his room and attempts to kill Sarah with a rifle from the newly constructed room, but is stopped by Eric and Marion. Realizing how truly violent this spirit is, Sarah sends her staff and builders away and decides to personally remove the ghost from her home and family. Despite Eric's insistence that they take Henry to a doctor, Sarah starts to prepare to confront the spirit. As Eric calls the Winchester company to request a doctor, he encounters a remaining butler who reveals himself to be a ghost. Eric meets with Sarah and they identify the ghost as Benjamin Block, a confederate soldier who lost both of his brothers in the Civil War, killed by Winchester rifles. A devastated Ben proceeded to shoot up a Winchester office, massacring the workers before being shot dead by police. Ben has been the one that has been possessing Henry; the constructed room with the Winchester guns is the room where Ben was shot dead when he committed the shooting.

As they talk, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake takes place, devastating the house and separating Eric and Sarah. In the chaos, a possessed Henry escapes his room and is pursued by Marion. Eric encounters several ghosts who were killed by Winchester rifles, eventually entering the garden room. There he encounters the ghost of Ruby where it is revealed that Ruby was mentally ill and was misdiagnosed by Eric. The unstable Ruby shot Eric before killing herself with a Winchester rifle. The ghost of Ruby comforts Eric, inspiring him to help Sarah. Meanwhile Marion searches the house for Henry, eventually finding him in the basement. Eric reunites with Sarah and they manage to trap Ben in the room. In the basement, Marion and Henry are cornered by Ben's brothers. Eric and Sarah confront Ben who proves to be too powerful and attempts to murder Sarah. The pair realizes that Ben is scared of the bullet that Eric kept and that Eric has been able to see the ghosts in the house due to him dying beforehand. The bullet is linked to the dead due to it being used to kill Eric. Eric uses the bullet in the Winchester Rifle that Ben used in the shooting and banishes Ben. Henry and Marion are saved and the other spirits return to their rooms.

Eric leaves Sarah, Marion, and Henry. He pronounces Sarah sane, allowing her to remain in control of the company. Sarah announces her intent to build more rooms to help more spirits. A nail falls out of a board sealing a spirit in the room as the house is being repaired.


  • Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester
  • Jason Clarke as Eric Price
  • Sarah Snook as Marian Marriott
  • Finn Scicluna-O'Prey as Henry Marriott
  • Angus Sampson as John Hansen
  • Laura Brent as Ruby Price
  • Emm Wiseman as Nancy
  • Tyler Coppin as Arthur Gates
  • Thor Carlsson as Tormented Cowboy
  • Eamon Farren as Benjamin Block


In 2009, it was announced that a film would be made about the Winchester Mystery House. Rights to the story were acquired by the Hammer Films division of Exclusive Media in 2012, with Imagination Design Works and Nine/8 Entertainment producing. Michael and Peter Spierig were set as directors on May 10, 2016, with the pair also revising the script. On May 14, Helen Mirren began finalizing a deal to star in the film as heiress Sarah Winchester, and filming was expected to start later in 2016, in San Jose, California and Australia. In August 2016, CBS Films acquired distribution rights to the film, and production was pushed back to March 2017. In September 2016, Jason Clarke entered negotiations to star in the film. Sarah Snook and Angus Sampson joined the cast in March 2017, and filming commenced in Australia. The film was renamed to Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built on October 10, 2017, and was moved from its original release date of February 23, 2018 up to February 2, 2018. Executive producers on the film include Andrew Trapani, Brian J. Gilbert, Antonia Lianos, Benedict Carver, Daniel Diamond and Tobin Armbrust.


Box office

In the United States and Canada, Winchester was released on February 2, 2018, and was expected to gross $6-8 million from 2,480 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $9.3 million, finishing third at the box office, behind holdovers Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 13%, based on 66 reviews, and an average rating of 3.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Like a grand staircase within the famous mansion that inspired it, Winchester appears poised to get a rise out of audiences, but ultimately leads nowhere." OnMetacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 28 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.

Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman was critical of the film, saying, "Mirren does all she can to look like she"?s having fun, but Winchester...[is] an empty grab bag of a spook show in which the Spierig brothers never do figure out a way to turn the Winchester Mystery House into an exhilarating movie set. It"?s more like a hardwood maze that traps us."

Conversely, reviewer Simon Abrams gave it three out of four stars, stating, "Winchester leveled my unfair expectations simply by being both silly and fun...what [it] lacks in originality its creators amply make up for in execution."

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