Prepare to be rocked to your core when watching the teaser trailer for Helen Mirren's Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built. It's a horrifying depiction of real-life events, based on an actual haunted house located in San Jose, California. The forthcoming film shares the accounts of firearms heiress Sarah Winchester (Mirren), a woman who upon the advice of a medium, commissions the building of a massive 24,000 square foot, 160 room Victorian mansion that she intends to use as a prison for hundreds of ghosts that she believes are out to seek vengeance on her, according to Deadline. It is Winchester's belief that the looming phantoms are the spirits of those who have been killed by the Winchester rifles, which were manufactured by her late husband and his family.
The Winchester Mystery House — which was reported to be under constant construction for 24 hours, 7 days a week for 38 years — has long been considered one of the world's most haunted houses. Winchester reportedly guided the ongoing construction from the ground up until her death in 1922. The massive structure featured odd architectural fixtures that ABC News indicates were intended to confuse ghosts, such as twisting hallways, doors that lead to nowhere, upside-down columns, and a staircase that go down seven steps and then up eleven. Amongst its list of astonishing features, the house also had 10,000 windows, nine kitchens, 13 bathrooms, and 47 stairways and fireplaces, according to Variety.
The entire project reportedly cost the heiress over $5 million to construct and stood at seven stories tall until a 1906 earthquake crumbled the top three floors. The Los Angeles Times reported that the quake will be detailed in the film, which is hits theaters Feb. 2, 2018. The natural disaster disrupted the construction and turned the house into a distorted version of its former self, Winchester House historian Janan Boehm told the Los Angeles Times in May. She's reportedly worked for the last 40 years at the home, which now serves as a tourist attraction. “It definitely got weirder over the years,” Boehme said, indicating that Winchester herself acknowledged the disarray, She goes on to explain, “After 1906, she herself said in a letter, ‘This house looks like it was built by a crazy person.’ So many things got boarded up, and were unfinished and unrepaired.” Portions of the movie, which is being directed by brotherly duo Michael and Peter Spierig, were filmed on location at the California mansion, according to Syfy.
There have long been questions about Winchester's motive for building such an immense construction, as the LA Times indicates that there's little to no record of her foray into the project other than a few letters that have been archived in the libraries of San Jose’s historical database.
Mirren's chilling portrayal of Winchester in the ghost story is complemented by the invented character of Dr. Eric Price (played by Jason Clarke), according to Variety. Price is a psychiatrist sent to the mansion by the Winchester Rifle Company to investigate the widow's obsession with supernatural activity in an attempt to allow the company to regain control of the fortune left behind by Winchester's husband. Upon entering the home, Price, once skeptical of Winchester's ideals, is not so convinced that her obsession with the supernatural activity is simply a figment of her imagination, according to the LA Times.
Mirren once revealed her thoughts on the occult to People back in April of this year. She explained,
“I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe people can be haunted, and Sarah Winchester is a haunted person ... That was the appeal in the role.”
Dame Helen Mirren has long been regarded for standout performances throughout her extensive five-decade career. And simply judging from this first look of The House That Ghosts Built, Mirren's harrowing portrayal of Sarah Winchester seems to be nothing short of another stellar presentation from the multi-award-winning actor.