In 1884, Sarah Winchester - the fabulously wealthy (and possibly insane) widow to gun magnate William Wirt Winchester - began construction on a sprawling home in San Jose, CA. The build was not an easy one, and by the time the basic structure of the mansion was in place, Winchester (and more than a few of the construction crew) were convinced the building was haunted, presumably by the spirits of all the people who had been killed by William Winchester's deadly products.
Amazingly, construction on the house continued for decades, all the way up until Sarah's death in 1922. Over that period, she incorporated a number of bizarre additions into the home - trap doors, staircases that led to nowhere, doorways that opened onto brick walls - under the belief that these structural dead-ends would confuse and stave off the spirits she believed to be haunting the residence.
After her death, the Winchester Mystery House became a tourist attraction, and now - nearly a century later - it will serve as the basis for a new thriller starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke. Here's the news, via the Hollywood Reporter:
Mirren will play Sarah Winchester, the eccentric heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune...
Clarke will play skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist, Eric Price, who is sent to the home to evaluate Winchester's mental health, only to discover she may have been right to be concerned.
The film, simply titled Winchester, will be directed by Predestination's Michael and Peter Spierig, and will film on location at the actual Winchester Mystery House. According to THR, the shoot is planned for March of next year.
Speaking as someone who loves weird-ass stories like this, I could not be happier. The Winchester Mystery House seems like a no-brainer location for a solid thriller (if anything, it's shocking that Guillermo del Toro hasn't already done it himself), and I'm pumped that one's finally being put together with such an amazing cast.
We'll keep you updated on Winchester as developments roll in. While you're waiting, I highly recommend this short 1963 documentary (narrated by Lillian Gish!) about the House. It's delightfully unsettling.