Winchester is a ghost story. And that’s all the spoilage I’m going to reveal. Well, in this paragraph. In the next, avclub.com 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. wikipedia.org:
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 . . .