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Horror dud riffing on the real-life mania that compelled fabulously wealthy arms heiress Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) to maintain constant construction on the San Jose, Calif., house she lived in over a period of nearly four decades, a project that ended only with her death. Commissioned by the board of directors of the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. to assess their majority shareholder's state of mental health, a doctor (Jason Clarke) with a turbulent past of his own discovers that Sarah's claim that she and her family, here represented by her niece (Sarah Snook) and young grandnephew (Finn Scicluna-O'Prey), are cursed is well-founded in eerie fact. A mash-up of the haunted house, angry ghost and possessed kid subgenres, co-directors and brothers Michael and Peter Spierig's film has a little of everything, but none of it works. The script's peaceable theme — the spirits bugging Sarah were all killed by Winchester guns — is certainly in keeping with Gospel values, although aspects of the physician's lifestyle, only hinted at, are clearly contrary to them.

Watch out for: Occult themes, gunplay and other stylized violence with little gore, drug use, implications of promiscuity and possible group sex involving prostitutes, a couple of profanities, a milder oath, at least one crass term.

Rated: A-III, adults; MPAA: PG-13

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018