We love us some Helen Mirren, and we’ll be getting a dose of the Dame on the big screen this week, with her new and utterly haunting film, Winchester, premiering on Friday, February 2.
Mirren portrays Sarah Winchester, the real life 19th century heiress to Winchester firearms, who amassed a great fortune when her husband died and famously used it to turn her mansion into a sprawling maze of corridors, rooms and staircases. After being widowed in 1881, and losing her only child in infancy 15 years earlier, she came to believe she was cursed; haunted by the ghosts of people killed by the guns her inherited company manufactured.
Let’s get geared up for Winchester with 10 other haunt-filled films you can watch from home (in case your pants do in fact fly off):
1. Poltergeist (1982)
Steven Spielberg‘s Poltergeist takes us to a typical American suburb, where we meet a typical family, moving into a typical house. The house itself looks like the one next to it, and the one next to that one. But, their house is a little different from the others. Apparently, it was built over a burial ground, and spirits are seeping up into the house. Let’s just say, if your TV goes a bit fuzzy… look the other way! Poltergeist stars familiar faces like Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams.
You can watch Poltergeist over at Amazon Video.
2. Haunted (1995)
The name of this film — Haunted — gets straight to the point. It doesn’t get more clear-cut than that. But, haunted in what way? Aidan Quinn takes on the role of American Professor David Ash, who specializes in debunking psychic phenomenon. He’s invited to a British estate to look into some unexplainable events. He finds himself questioning his beliefs, and… facing a ghost that he somehow has personal ties to. You can also look for Kate Beckinsale, who pops up in the last few seconds of the above trailer, saying, “Die for me, David.” Well, that’s quite a request.
3. Stir of Echoes (1999)
Kevin Bacon stars in Stir of Echoes as non-believer Jake. At a get-together, he goes so far as to dare his sister-in-law to put him under hypnosis, saying, “Yeah, do me. What’s the worst that could happen?” Oh, nooooo… he’s challenging the universe. We have an inkling that a lot is about to happen. He wakes up, as if no time has passed, haunted by murderous visions. A door in his mind has been opened, and he wants it shut. Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. The film is based on Richard Matheson‘s 1958 novel A Stir of Echoes; David Koepp (Angels & Demons) wrote and directed the film adaptation.
4. The Others (2001)
Nicole Kidman stars in period drama The Others, set just after the end of WWII in England. While her husband was at war, she held down the house, caring for their two small children. The kids believe the house is haunted, but their mother is not keen on such a talk. But their new nanny can see what the children are seeing, predicting, “Sooner or later she’ll see them, then everything will be different.” What does that mean? OK, we know what it means, because we’ve seen the film, but it still gives us chills just thinking about it.
5. The Ring (2002)
In The Ring, it’s not a house that’s filled with spirits… it’s the VCR! (Remember those?) Actually, a video tape of a demon crawls out of the screen in the most creepy way imaginable. Naomi Watts stars as Rachel, a reporter investigating the unexplained deaths of four teenagers in the area. One thing that they have in common is that all four watched the tape. Rachel, please, please, do not watch the tape. Op, too late! She finds her eight-year-old son Aidan (David Dorfman), glued to the set, watching the video. It’s like trying to un-ring a bell; the video can’t be unwatched… but, can they break the cycle somehow?
6. The Skeleton Key (2005)
When we hear the word “key,” it makes us think of a locked door… but, we may not want to know what’s on the other side in Kate Hudson‘s The Skeleton Key. She works as a home hospice caregiver, named Caroline. She arrives at a mansion to help look after a stroke victim (John Hurt). He’s bedridden and can’t speak, but he definitely has something to tell her about the history of the house. This chilling movie is by The Ring writer Ehren Kruger, and you can look for familiar faces like Peter Sarsgaard and Gena Rowlands.
7. The Conjuring (2013)
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as a married couple, who work as paranormal investigators in The Conjuring. The film is actually based on the true story of real-life “ghost hunters” Ed and Lorraine Warren. These two seem fearless, walking down into a dark cellar after the door opened on its own, with Ed asking, “Give us a sign that you want to communicate with us.” They don’t get an answer straight away… but then we hear a child giggling. Ack! The pair investigated thousands of cases, but one stood out most to them: a family latched onto by hateful spirits, and there’s nothing they can do to get away.
8. Annabelle (2014)
It’s not a house or a VCR that’s haunted this time. It’s… a doll! And what’s creepier than a demonic porcelain doll staring you down? How about one that comes alive and threatens your life and everything you care about? That’s what happens in director John R. Leonetti‘s Annabelle. A young couple witnesses a terrifying, bloodied attack in their neighborhood. They up and move houses (we don’t blame them), but one of the dolls they pack has brought a “souvenir” from their old home.
9. Crimson Peak (2015)
At first glance, Crimson Peak appears to be a story of romance, set during 1887 in Buffalo, New York. Nope, not really. Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska do get loved-up in the film, but their house gets in the way of the newlyweds’ bliss. The young bride finds that the mansion she’s moved into, “breathes, bleeds and.. remembers.” Remembers what? Oh, geez… You can also look for Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam, and while this movie may be full of familiar faces, nothing about it is comforting.
10. Mother! (2017)
If your pants are still on by now, you must not scare easily. But we’ll finish with one more fright-filled flick, which just might do the job. It’s Darren Aronofsky‘s Mother!, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a happily married couple. Like any good ghost story, things seem well and good in the beginning, but things get weird… fast. Bardem’s character, only known as Him, let’s a stranger (Ed Harris) into their house, to stay for an undetermined time. Lawrence’s character, who doesn’t have a proper name either, is quite confused. Then, there’s another knock on the door, and the stranger’s wife (Michele Pfieffer) arrives. She goes by Woman and will be staying, too. Incidentally, it revealed later that Lawrence does in fact have a name… but, it may spoil the film, so we’ll leave that bit out. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if someone knocks on your door and you’re not expecting a guest, don’t open it.
Are you now too freaked out to go to the movies ? Hope not!