The Changeling (1980)
Director: Peter Medak
George C. Scott/John
Trish Van Devere/Claire
John (Scott) loses his family to a nasty accident. He takes a job as a music teacher and moves into an old house. Guess what? The house is haunted and trying to communicate with him. What does it want?
I don’t have anything negative to say about this spine-chilling little flick. This is an old fashioned film that relies on a developed main character (Scott rules), intelligence, emotion and subtlety to reel you in. No token teens, no excessive gore, no cheap scares…this is the real thing. Haven’t seen that in a while!
The typical haunted house shenanigans spin the movie in a fresh direction. It becomes a clever, engrossing, grim mystery. That aspect works and I’m happy that the film doesn’t give it up too soon. It gives you little flashes here, little clues there and reveals everything in the end. It makes its audience part of the mystery (and what a sick, messed up mystery it is). We’re in the same shoes as John, every time he gets closer to the truth, we get closer.
I was very surprised, I expected the movie to take a more standard route. This one moves around the usual genre pitfalls and instead delivers a layered powerful drama bathed in the supernatural. At a certain point, the film links the house’s history to an outside character. I got a bit scared fearing a one-dimensional villain would step in. I was quickly relieved when the film treated that aspect the same way it treated the rest: With its two feet on the ground, communicating true emotions.
The film also has enough physical action to satisfy the thrill seekers. We get one creepy séance session, disturbing flashbacks, morbid discoveries and one pissed off wheelchair.
The eerie house is also used to its fullest: creepy hallways, whispers, slamming doors…the house is a character in this film and its presence is always felt.
I really lost myself in this flick and enjoyed every second of it. The pace might be too slow for today’s quick fix crowd but if patience is one of your virtues, you will be rewarded. Movies like this don’t come around everyday.
No gore but disturbing images that will haunt you.
George C. Scott (John) blew me away. What a skilled actor. His presence ups the quality level of this film. I can’t praise him enough. Trish Van Devere (Claire) plays off Scott very well but it’s the key scene between Scott and Melvin Douglas (Senator) that really made my day. Seeing these two veterans battle it out in the acting ring was a treat. Douglas like Scott is awesome.
T & A
Not a ghost of a chance.
Medak is all about swooping camera movements. He makes great use of the house and wraps the camera all around it. I also loved his use of sound, very subtle, very creepy. What happened to this guy? This movie is all quality! Now he’s directing cheese like Species 2. Hollywood is a weird place.
A score that blends perfectly with the eerie images.
I haven’t seen many great haunted house flicks. This one ranks right up there with the original The Haunting. The pace is slow but not boring slow…just slow. Wanna know what a changeling is? Rent this movie and find out.
The flick had a budget of $7.6 million. That’s small but I never noticed.
George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere won the Genie Award for their parts (they were married at the time).