The Changeling (1980)

R   |    |  Horror


The Changeling (1980) Poster

A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre.

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7.3/10
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  • George C. Scott in The Changeling (1980)
  • George C. Scott and Melvyn Douglas in The Changeling (1980)
  • George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere in The Changeling (1980)
  • George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere in The Changeling (1980)
  • George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere in The Changeling (1980)
  • George C. Scott in The Changeling (1980)

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8 March 2017 | AlsExGal
7
| Goes for old style chills and thrills
A man, recovering from the recent deaths of his wife and child in an automobile accident in New York state, moves across the country to Washington. There he tries to move on with his life as a musical composer by moving into a large Victorian style house in the country. Strange things begin to happen, however, water taps turned on, a window smashing on its own, his daughter's rubber ball inexplicably bouncing down a towering staircase and, above all, thunderous bangs periodically echoing throughout the house for no apparent reason.

The man realizes that something is trying to communicate with him in this house, and he begins an investigation of the building's history. And there's something, something going on in that tiny dusty cob web strewn room at the very top of the house, the one with a music box and a small wheelchair.

George C. Scott is a solid presence in this film as the man bewildered by this huge old home, with Scott's wife, the elegant Trish Van Devere, cast as a member of the local historical society instrumental in having secured him this house. Melvyn Douglas appears as a U.S. senator who is somehow related to the house.

Director Peter Medak lets the suspense build slowly in this intelligent Canadian made ghost story. Rather than going for terror, this film goes for subtle chills. There's a seance scene that is genuinely eerie, as Medak's camera returns to that small room and then starts to glide down the stairs towards the seance participants trying to communicate with the spirit.

Some ghost films are all special effects and over-the-top performances of terror. Like the best of the classy, more mature films that explore the supernatural, The Changeling never goes for cheap thrills. This thriller's eeriness is analogous to a tap on the shoulder by a cold finger, only to turn around and find there is nobody there.

It may be a cliché to say it, but, in this case, it's true: if you watch this film, be sure to do so with the lights turned low.

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