Director: Peter Medak
Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh, John Colicos
… an experience beyond total fear
John Russell is a successful composer who recently lost his wife and child in a traffic accident. He moves from New York to Seattle where he has been allowed to rent an old mansion where he can recover from his loss and work on his music.
Shortly after moving in he starts to hear strange noises and gets convinced that there is an entity living in his home. He gets some mediums to his house where they hold a séance to find out who is haunting the place and John gets obsessed with finding out the backstory of the apparently young child that is possession his house.
The Changeling is an award winning Canadian horror movie by the hungarian director Peter Medak. It is a traditional ghost story played very subtle with the focus on slowly building the tension and creating a creepy and eerie atmosphere. It has perhaps the best séance scene in a haunted house movie by trying to keep things realistic instead of going over the top, a line that is very easy to cross when it comes to this type of subject matter. He is able to hold on to the creepy feeling for most part of the movie, what fails it a little is that it never goes from creepy to really scary and some of the scenes between John and the Senator towards the end kills the tension a little for me.
Perhaps the best part of the movie is the sounds and music. Every soundbite and music feels so perfected for this movie. Rick Wilkins was responsible for the music and I’m surprised to see that he didn’t stay busy in the movie industry after this, only providing scores for a few unknown movies after this.
The acting is also very nicely done. George C. Scott, who later did an excellent job in The Exorcist 3, carries the movie as the lead John Russell and does a very fine job. He makes John very real, likeable and convincing. His wife Trish Van Devere is in the supporting cast and they had already worked together on four films before doing this one.
The Changeling is a well crafted ghost story. It might be a little too slow for a lot of todays viewers, but give it a chance and you might find it to be a creepy and well done film. The film also has an unofficial sequel by Lamberto Bava that was originally titled Until Death, later retitled into The Changeling 2 to try to cash in on the good reputation of this film.