Screen Rant tours the real-life house that inspired the film Winchester to learn how it will be incorporated in the movie. “Sarah Winchester seems to have built this house to confuse both the living….and the dead,” so speculates the tour guide at the real-life Winchester house that still stands in the city of San Jose, California. What was once home for Sarah to barricade herself in with the spirits she believed to be after her, is now a California landmark which sees many tourists every year. It was also named Time Magazine’s, “One of the Most Haunted Places in the World.”
Helen Mirren is set to play Sarah Winchester in Michael and Peter Spierig’s upcoming horror film, Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built. One of our very own from Screen Rant accepted an invitation to take a tour inside the infamous home. With rooms that are referred to as the “Crystal Rooms” and the “Daisy Rooms,” it reads more like a peaceful retreat than the ravings of a mad woman. The catalyst for the birth of the Winchester house began with the demise of Sarah and her husband’s newborn child, Sarah’s husband himself, and then her father in law. Convinced that her family was cursed, Sarah sought the advice of mediums. One, in particular, Adam Coons, theorized that all who were killed by the Winchester rifle has cursed her family. He recommended that she move west, and build a house for herself and to house the spirits to imprison them. However, he warned that if she ever stopped construction on the home, she would join her family in death.
Related: Watch The Winchester Trailer
During the tour, it was mentioned that the film recreated many of the historic rooms practically while using CGI to recreate other areas of the home such as the two stories that collapsed in the devastating San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Sarah was trapped in a room for several hours after the fact, and her resolve to continue construction on the maze-like home lessened.
With 161 rooms, five floors, several staircases, and doors that lead to “nowhere”, one particular set piece proved to be quite challenging for the filmmakers, Michael and Peter Spierig. Peter states:
“We recreated this staircase which was a miracle really. Getting cameras in there. It was almost a one for one replication of that staircase, but we had to get the four walls out to get the cameras in there. Put the walls back, and swap out other walls so it was an interesting process. As the guys will attest it was a pretty difficult place to shoot, because you need to maintain that claustrophobic feel, but you need to be practical. It was quite a complex sequence that happens with Helen and it’s something that if we didn’t build it would be impossible to shoot. What’s fascinating too is that the women all wore big dresses. You see how narrow it is just walking up there with jeans. It was pretty tight.”
After 38 years of construction, Sarah Winchester succumbed to heart failure at the age of 82. The home was then auctioned off to the highest bidder and turned into the attraction that you can tour today. One inhabitant in the Winchester home if you are so lucky to catch him while he’s around, is that of a handyman that has stuck around long after the death of Sarah. He can be usually seen walking around with a wheelbarrow. During the tour with the filmmakers, we did learn that the film will take place in 1906 around the time of the earthquake.
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