When you’re thinking of real-life stories that are so mind-blowingly incredible that it’s just absurd that they haven’t yet been turned into Hollywood blockbuster, that of the Winchester Mystery House tops the list.
The story is worth a major Wikipedia dive, but the short version is that following her husband’s death and on the advice of a psychic supposedly channeling the dead man, Sarah Winchester— heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune— moved from Connecticut to Northern California to escape the ghosts of all the people killed by the family company’s rifles.
In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. Carpenters were hired and worked on the house day and night until it became a seven story mansion. She did not use an architect and added on to the building in a haphazard fashion, so the home contains numerous oddities such as doors and stairs that go nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms and stairs with odd-sized risers. Many accounts attribute these oddities to her belief in ghosts.
Yes, from 1884 until her death in 1922, the house was under constant construction. Doors and stairways led to nowhere, in an attempt to trick the ghosts Sarah was sure were after her. If you ever find yourself in San Jose, you can and should tour the house. It’s bananas.
And now it’s getting what will hopefully be the big screen adaptation it deserves. Probably the best indication that Winchester is worth being excited about is that Helen Mirren has been cast to play Sarah.
How utterly perfect. Jason Clarke, of Terminator Genysis and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will play “skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist Eric Price, who is sent to the home to evaluate Winchester’s mental health, only to discover she may have been right to be concerned.”
The Spierig Brothers— the team behind Predestination and Daybreakers— are directing and co-writing the movie, so I suppose I’ll have to finally watch one of their movies to see if they’re as uniformly uninteresting as I’ve always assumed they are. Nothing says Generic, Vaguely Sci-Fi Thriller like a Spierig poster.
Please tell me if I’m wrong about that. It would help me keep my hopes as high I’m trying to keep them.