The bulk of horror movies stem from a work of fiction, but that’s not the case for the upcoming Winchester, which amplifies the spooky history of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Academy Award–winner Helen Mirren portrays Sarah Winchester, a real-life widow and heiress to a firearms fortune who started building the 24,000-square-foot mansion in 1886.
The story of the quirky millionaire and her expansive Victorian home is an eerie one. After her husband’s death, Winchester was convinced that all the people killed by the family company’s rifles had come back to haunt her, and building this mansion was her way of dealing with the grief and guilt. She spent nearly 40 years obsessively altering the house, adding secret passageways, hidden rooms, and staircases leading to nowhere. Many of the rooms were left unfinished after her death in 1922.
Winchester—which opens in theatres on February 2—puts the popular tourist destination in the spotlight, but not for the first time. The mansion has also been featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures.
Want to see it for yourself? Tickets to the premiere screenings at the Winchester Mystery House have sold out, but you can still take a trip to Silicon Valley’s capital and go on one of the tours. (Check out a preview of the attraction in the video below, included in our list of five amazing things to do in San Jose.)
The 65-minute Mansion Tour allows you to see 110—of the 160—rooms, as well as many of the quirky features (look out for a shocking amount of number 13s). And for the first time in 20 years, you can now tour never-before-open areas of the house during the Explore More Tour, which takes guests from the bottom of the grand manor to the rooftop, through many of the dark corridors and rumored-to-be-haunted spaces along the way.