“Winchester” has an Oscar winner, a primo release date, but…

I had high hopes for the Gothic horror “based on a true story” tale “Winchester.” It’s not a Hammer Films release, but CBS is distributing it, like the late-winter Gothic hit “Woman  in Black” of a few years back.

It stars Helen Mirren, Oscar winner, “The Queen,” in more ways than one, as the ghost-believing widow Sarah Winchester who built a house she was then convinced was haunted by no end of ghosts.

Jason Clarke’s in it. And CBS Films has been promoting the hell out of it. For ages.

Imagine my shock when CBS chose not to preview their latest pre-Oscars horror come-on, a picture that had “Sleeper hit” written all over it.

Then again, the Spierig brothers directed it. Germans best known for the offbeat vampire thriller “Daybreakers” (2009) and last year’s less impressive “Jigsaw,” one gets the impression CBS, which never cracked the code for “What makes a major player in Hollywood films,” figure it’s a dog best hidden from one and all.

Either that, or Winchester firearms got them to suppress their marketing of it. Gun nuttery and blood money associations being what they are.

So I see it Thursday night like anybody else curious enough to figure out what Helen Mirren (doing a lot of no-budget stuff these days) saw in it.

My guess is, not much aside from a paycheck. And CBS? You want to play with the big boys, roll the dice, work with talent and market your movie like grownups. Let the press see your product unless you’re ashamed of it, because that’s what this looks like. Can’t be any worse than “Beastly,” and come to think of it, I liked that.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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