Between spending a good portion of this month at Sundance, only to immediately come down the flu after returning, I haven’t been altogether, 100% caught up on everything going on in the world. (Have you had this flu? Oh, gosh, it’s a monster. It just knocks you out for three or four days. On Sunday I woke up, realized I had the flu, then went back to sleep until Wednesday. I would guess I’ve had more sleep this week than any week since I was an infant.) Anyway, when my editor told me we needed a review of Winchester, I honestly had no idea what that was. Considering the time of year this is, and that it’s not screening early for press, my best guess was this was some sort of horror movie. (I was right.) My second best guess was that this was, finally, the long-awaited origin story of David Ogden Stiers’ character from M*A*S*H, Charles Emerson Winchester III. (Honestly, I always liked Winchester on M*A*S*H. Unlike Frank Burns, he was smart. Snooty, yes, which is why Hawkeye and B.J. didn’t always like him, but they always respected him as a surgeon.)
Anyway, since I had absolutely no idea what I was seeing, added with the fact I’m still in the midst of that post-flu groggy no man’s land of not being sick anymore, but also still not feeling “right,” I decided to keep a running diary. Here’s how that all turned out.
12:25 p.m. I have the hardest time picking an assigned seat when all but five are open. I literally stare at the seat selection screen for three minutes before making a selection.
12:27 p.m. I decide not to sit in the seat that I preselected.
12:29 p.m. I had to use the restroom and the sinks aren’t working properly, so I return to my seat with my hands covered in soap.
12:29 p.m. And who says the movie theater going experience is diminishing?
12:35 p.m. Winchester has begun.
12:35 p.m. I am told this was “Inspired By Actual Events,” which is code for, “There’s a person in this movie who was a real person but the rest of it is totally made up.”
12:36 p.m. Honestly, what a dumb sentence. “Inspired by actual events,” could literally mean anything. But you know there’s going to be someone out there watching Winchester this weekend swearing up and down this is true because of that meaningless sentence.
12:37 p.m. There’s a child named Henry standing on a table with a bag on his head.
12:37 p.m. Maybe Henry is watching a movie.
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) January 31, 2018
12:37 p.m. Maybe Henry is watching Winchester.
12:38 p.m. Jason Clarke is in this movie. That’s encouraging.
12:41 p.m. My hands smell nice.
12:45 p.m. The word “Winchester” has already been said in this movie about 40 times.
12:46 p.m. We just had our first jump scare. It involved a maid cleaning a cabinet. That’s not a good sign.
12:46 p.m. Also, when did bad horror movies all come to a consensus on the “jump scare” sound. You know that sound, like an orchestra playing all of its instruments as loud as they can for like one second?
12:48 p.m. Why did I agree to this?
12:54 p.m. Jason Clarke plays a doctor who is hired to travel to Helen Mirren’s haunted house and give her a medical evaluation. Jason Clarke also, for fun, sips a liquid from a jar labeled “poison.”
12:57 p.m. Jason Clarke and Helen Mirren are having dinner, discussing roller skates.
12:58 p.m. There is no reasonable person in this movie.
12:58 p.m. Like who hears a mysterious sound in the middle of the night, in a house they don’t live in, then decides it’s a good idea to investigate where that sound came from? When I hear a mysterious sound in the middle of the night, I just pretend I didn’t hear it. Life is full of mysteries.
12:59 p.m. I bet the Devin Nunes memo is out by now.
12:59 p.m. I bet right now Twitter is reacting to the memo in a calm and orderly manner.
1:03 p.m. Winchester just gave us the ol’ “xylophone almost jump scare.” Like when the creature or ghost kind of walks by in the background or foreground, but doesn’t look directly into the camera, and a xylophone plays.
1:07 p.m. Jason Clarke is really trying his best here.
1:10 p.m. Winchester has devolved into nothing but jump scares.
1:15 p.m. I can’t believe Mortdecai was a movie.
1:17 p.m. At this point I don’t know much more about this movie than I did when I had never heard of it.
1:19 p.m. Winchester is the Devin Nunes of horror movies.
1:19 p.m. I have no idea what that means.
1:21 p.m. I bet Jason Clarke is a ghost.
1:21 p.m. I bet Devin Nunes is a ghost.
1:21 p.m. Maybe I am a ghost. Maybe I died from the flu and this is my fate, haunting this theater.