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The Changeling (1980)

Cast: George C. Scott, George C. Scott, Trish VanDevere, more...
Director: Peter Medak, Peter Medak
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Studio: HBO Home Video
Genre: Ghosts
Running Time: 115 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Peter Medak's The Changeling is among a handful of films, including The Haunting (1963), Ghost Story (1981), and Lady in White (1988), that have successfully recreated the intimate, drawing-room atmosphere of supernatural horror fiction. After his wife and daughter are killed in a snowbound car accident, classical composer John Russell (George C. Scott) relocates from New York to Seattle to teach at his alma mater. Looking for a quiet place to rest and continue writing music, he is referred Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere) at the Seattle Historical Preservation Society. Claire shows John a large, sparsely furnished estate in the outlying countryside. He takes the house, appreciating its remoteness and the solitude it might afford, and diverts himself by renovating and settling in. He even starts to compose, putting aside his older work in favor of a new, sentimental piece for the piano. It is not long, however, before he begins having nightmares about the accident that killed his wife and daughter. Possibly because of this trauma, he is open to communications from the house's ghostly occupants. Pursuing a loud, repetitive pounding noise in an upper room, he stumbles on the apparition of a young boy drowning in a tub. Working together with Claire, John discovers frightening parallels between this vision and buried events from the house's past. Horror writer M.R. James once said that his goal as a writer was to make the reader feel "pleasantly uncomfortable." Those looking for a similar experience in movies will appreciate The Changeling as a gem in the horror genre. ~ Anthony Reed, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Spooky coincidence? by IWhitney December 12, 2003 - 6:09 PM PST
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Filmed shortly after The Shining wrapped - but released a couple of months before it - so much of The Changeling's opening moments reminded me of Kubrick's film. Steadycam shots glide through a cavernous, empty house that was the home to tragedy in the early 1900s. An overhead shot of a car driving through snow. Leading men that seem more than a little insane.

As the film progresses, it diverges pretty far from The Shining, and while it's not a great movie, it certainly sticks more closely to its haunted house roots, delivering more straight-forward scares than the Overlook Hotel.

Perhaps a bit too long and a bit too eager to tie its plot into that pack horse of 70s filmmaking, the political thriller, The Changeling is still a good scary movie. Light on the gore, irony and hip soundtracks that fill modern horror, Changeling instead frightens through psychology, approaches its story with earnest fun and fills the soundtrack with classical music (apparently classical composers are all the rage in 1980's Seattle. Ah, the pre-grunge years).

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.61)
119 Votes
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