Movie Critic: Winchester Has “Too Many NRA Talking Points”

Helen Mirren IS Sara Winchester (courtesy

Winchester is a ghost story. And that’s all the spoilage I’m going to reveal. Well, in this paragraph. In the next, critic A.A. Dowd reveals the ending — and his disgust with a movie about the Winchester heir that isn’t an anti-gun polemic . . .

“The guilty, the innocent, the rifle doesn’t discriminate,” Sarah croaks at one point. But Winchester only feigns at anything resembling a gun-control message.

There are just a few too many NRA talking points sprinkled throughout, characters nervously noting that firearms are only a problem when they fall into the wrong hands.

Meanwhile, all the hand-wringing goes up in smoke by the preposterous climax, which comes close to declaring that the only thing that stops a bad ghost with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Ending with the insistence that the Winchester Mystery House is “one of the most haunted mansions in North America”—how such a thing is measured, the film doesn’t say—Winchester requires a rather dramatic suspension of disbelief, even for this genre.

Ghosts we’ll accept. But a gun manufacturer tortured by guilt about gun violence? Citation needed.

Mr. Dowd’s anti-gun animus is clear, but his skepticism is well-founded.

According to the legends surrounding her, she felt that her family was cursed, and sought out spiritualists to determine what she should do.

A Boston medium, Adam Coons, believed to be a psychic, allegedly told her that the Winchester family was cursed by the spirits of all the people who had been killed by the Winchester rifle and that she should move west to build a house for herself and the spirits.

The medium is claimed to have told her that if construction on the house ever stopped, she would join her husband and infant daughter.

However, Sarah’s biographer found no evidence to support these claims and Sarah likely did not move west because a medium told her to do so.

Still, still the story makes a good movie. Or a bad one. We shall see . . .


  1. avatar jwm says:

    The Winchester house is not that far from me. It’s an overhyped tourist trap.

    As for her. It was her money. She could waste it as she saw fit.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      I did the tourist thing there back in the ’70’s.
      Trippy place.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        I like weird architecture, and that place has *tons* of it.

        They offer extend ‘haunted’ tours that show a lot more of the place than the usual tourist-trap tour, and I’ll probably see it some day.

        Due to the *massive* size of the place (160 rooms) and the age of it, I imagine just maintaining it to keep it from falling apart is a major effort…

    2. avatar Gunr says:

      You say you are not far from the Winchester Mystery House, For about a year, I lived directly across the street from it back in the 60’s. Never toured it.

  2. avatar dwb says:

    Well, I was not going to go see it because I figured anything out of Hollywood was anti-gun propaganda.

    But if it annoyed an anti, I may now reconsider.

    1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

      A Hollywood movie that isn’t anti-gun? Might be worthwhile, I remember hearing about the house many years ago. Of course she was nuts, but when you’re rich they call you excentric and take your money.

    2. avatar binder says:

      I can’t figure out if the move is pro or anti gun. Here is the quote from the New Yorker.
      ““Winchester” Confronts the American Curse of Firearms”
      “In “Winchester,” the Spierigs have made a blunt and pissy American political film about the national curse of firearms and the unslaked, violent, destructive anger of the defeated Confederacy.”

  3. avatar rt66paul says:

    My own grandmother knew her and told my mother that she was a haunted soul. She would employ construction workers, get building ideas and the carpenters would end up quiting because of her crazy demands. Even the landscapers would soon leave.
    She was nuts.

    1. avatar ironicatbest says:

      That’s pretty cool that your grand mother knew her. That’s like wow, and your mom got to hear the story. I really enjoy listening to the older generation talk about stuff. Ahhhhhh fuck, flashing to my grandma, knowledge astounding. I should have listened closer.

  4. avatar Hank says:

    Has anyone ever tried shooting a ghost? Who says it wouldn’t work? I know I’d sure as hell shoot a ghost if one came at me in the night.

    1. avatar Rob, from Ks. says:

      12 gauge shell filled with salt, iron shavings, and a small vial of holy water. Throw a few bb’s in there while you’re at it, and maybe some silver shavings? Something in there is bound to work. Just clean the gun really well afterwords 😂

      1. avatar Sian says:

        “Kitchen Sink” anti-cryptozoo rounds.

        Make sure to have some garlic, silver, iron, chalk, and wood in there too.

        Something in there is going to work.

    2. avatar MilitantCentrist says:

      My number one fear walking the woods to the deer stand on a dark morning: ghosts.

      1. avatar Aaron says:

        your number one fear walking through the woods to a deer stand should by Lyme disease.

        nobody has proven the existence of ghosts, and if they do exist, they sure don’t seem to do much of anything. but ticks and lyme disease are for real, yo.

      2. avatar Wiregrass says:

        Is that you Tommy? I thought you were just scared of hogs. Or when up here, bears!

    3. avatar paul says:

      I think that is what Ghost guns are for.

      1. avatar Joleolsen says:

        Winner. +1,000 internet points.

  5. avatar Defens says:

    Since .45 ACP is well documented as not only a man stopping caliber, but also a soul disintegrater, I’m sure it would evaporate a pesky spirit with no issues.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Well done fine sir!

    2. avatar anonymoose says:

      It wasn’t until 2009 that Winchester started making the 92 in .45 Colt. That could explain some of her problems.

    3. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      My friend shot a ghost with .45 ACP once, just made the ghost mad. That’s why I switched to 10mm

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    Well they didn’t screen this flick for Chicago movie critic Dean Richards-which ain’t good. Mebbe I’ll see it someday on Netflix…

  7. avatar MentalModel70 says:

    There’s a pretty cool collection of old Winchester Rifles at the weird house…kinda hidden around the corner, go figure. I offered to take the demon-possessed lever-actions off their hands.

  8. avatar ironicatbest says:

    There our no ghost, what you think are ghost are really space aliens sent to earth via a worm hole to study Bigfoot .

  9. avatar anonymoose says:

    “The guilty, the innocent, the rifle doesn’t discriminate.” KHORNE CARES NOT FROM WHERE THE BLOOD FLOWS, ONLY THAT IT FLOWS.

    1. avatar Dog of War says:


      Skulls for the skull throne!

      1. avatar anonymoose says:


        1. avatar Quasimofo says:

          Corn for the Khorne flakes!

        2. avatar Quasimofo says:

          D’oh! Meant to write “Milk for the Khorne flakes!”

          Kids, don’t post on the Internet while you’re, uh, pre-gaming for the Super Bowl…

      2. avatar Steve B. says:

        What’s that smell?… IT’S BLOOOOD! xD

  10. avatar Dog of War says:

    And this right here is a good example of what the hell is wrong with movie critics anymore. Few of them can be bothered to get past their politics enough to give an honest movie review. Be it the terrible Ghostbusters remake or the latest Star Wars movie. Both loved by the critics but panned by the fans. Or even worse, you have great movies like ‘Bright’. Which was loved by the fans, but panned by the critics because they have a grudge against cops and by extension cop movies.

    1. avatar ironicatbest says:

      The last theatre I went to was playing, Mary Poppins, my aunt payed the way and corrected me and my brother the whole time for being disruptive and not enjoying the movie. Popcorn has its ways

    2. avatar Cdotson says:

      That’s not why the critics hated Bright. It was because the story set up so much SJW potential and just left it untouched or unfinished. They wanted to see the racial/species issues played out. They wanted the wand weapon thing to play out their disarmament dreams.

      I thought it was much better than the reviews but not great because they went to the trouble to entice sjws and it wasn’t essential to the plot, felt like they were gunning too hard for a sequel.

  11. avatar CC says:

    AV club is more than partisan. it politicizes everything and is very left wing

  12. avatar BradP says:

    That’s the problem now a days… WHY does entertainment (movie, TV show, sports, etc…) have to be pro or anti? Why can’t it just be entertainment?

  13. avatar Mad Max says:

    Must be a good movie…

  14. avatar William Ashbless says:

    The attraction does have a firearms museum that is quite impressive. I haven’t been there in twenty years but(at least back then) you didn’t have to sign up for a tour to check out the displays

  15. avatar Aaron says:

    movie critics have about as much influence and credibility as celebrities – which is not much – only they have a lot less money.

    of COURSE 90% of movie critics are left wingers; they make a living reviewing stuff that isn’t even real. Just like left wing actors and artists make a living by playing pretend.

  16. avatar Mike says:

    In an interview, Helen Mirren said, “It is a ghost story. I mean…I don’t think that it’s an anti-gun movie, as such. It’s an anti-making-money-off-the-sale-of-armaments movie.”

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email