"Winchester" Film Raises Interest in Eponymous Mansion

"Winchester" may be a newly-released horror film that stars Helen Mirren, but it is based on a true story. The film concerns the life of Sarah Winchester and her infamously haunted mansion that San Jose's tourists flock to every year.

While the majority of filming for Mirren's movie occurred in Australia, Mirren and co-star Jason Clarke were interviewed about the few scenes they filmed in the labyrinthine Winchester Mystery House. Jacob Williams, marketing coordinator for the historic site, emphasizes that the house is truly haunted and that there are countless hours of ghosts stories he could share. Despite the lack of any maps or blueprints, Williams is so intimately aware of the home's layout that it has earned him a mild following as a celebrity. Williams' familiarity with the house earned him the role of a stunt double for a rooftop scene involving Jason Clarke's character.

Clarke's character is a psychiatrist who visits the mansion at the behest of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, the rifle company which Sarah Winchester held a majority of the ownership. After Winchester inherited the fortune built on the back of the trademark rifle, Sarah was haunted by the perceived guilt that the weapon she earned her money from was causing the victims to haunt her. A spiritualist convinces Winchester to build an ever-evolving maze of rooms and corridors in order to trap and delay the angry spirits.

Mirren plays the notorious recluse of a woman, who was also a carpenter's daughter with a strong affection for the artistic application of woodwork. Mirren made it her business to analyze the house until she felt she was as capable of leading a tour as Williams. Walter Magnuson, general manager for the Mystery House, agreed that her knowledge of the house was great enough that she could manage a tour group.

The impending release of this Winchester film has ignited a series of tours and feature displays that includes a costume display from the film. Said costumes are visible within the Venetian dining room. It seems that this has even drawn the interest of locals who would frequent the cite as children. Additionally, the house is providing additional marketing for the film through a premiere in its Grand Ballroom and a batch of commemorative posters. Magnuson feels that visits will increase in frequency and size as more people see the film and get curious about the truth.


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