– At Your Discretion – PG-13, Fantasy, Horror
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What could have been an intriguing glance into the disturbed mind of Sarah Winchester was sidetracked by a nonsensical plot. Winchester had the talent behind and in front of the camera to produce a film of decent quality. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick the landing.

When is Hollywood going to recognize that horror movies don’t need jump scares around every corner? A question I have asked repeatedly while watching nearly every horror movie in the last 6 years. Of course, there have been exceptions to this in recent memory (It Follows, The Witch). What’s even more interesting for me is the growing divisiveness between audiences and critics surrounding this phenomenon. Just look at the conflicting scores of those movies listed before.

It appears that horror movies reliant on jump scares typically have done well among audiences and in box office numbers. However, these movies often fall short in critics’ eyes and often have low scores among them. This begs one question: if the audiences are okay with constant jump scares, are they ever going away? Probably not. At least not for a long time, but I digress.

It’s upsetting, really; there was so much to explore in this film that was just brushed over. Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, and Sarah Snook are all competent actors. And the film is at its best when we dial back on the jump scares and focus on the mind of Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), who is haunted by spirits that have died due to her families creation: the Winchester rifle. Diving in to the conflict in ideologies between her and Jason Clarke’s character is endlessly fascinating. The relevance of the story’s plot could have made a serious impact on audiences much like 2017’s Get Out.

For me, the scariest aspect of the film comes from the house Sarah has built (and continues to build in the movie). The house itself is almost a main character and it does provoke a sense of dread when the audience explores it. You may ask: “What else can he (me) say about the movie?” Hardly anything at all.

Stay at home this weekend if a theatre near you is only carrying Den of Thieves and Winchester. Both are worthy of a rental, at best. Just don’t spend $10 dollars on either because audiences deserve to be treated better.

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