Horror Movie Review: The Changeling (1980)

A thrilling, if not dry, supernatural mystery horror, The Changeling was directed by Peter Medak and stars George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, and Melvyn Douglas.

Scott plays John Russell, a music composer who rents a massive Victorian mansion to stay in. John wants solitude to work and grieve, his wife and child having been killed in an unfortunate car accident.

However, the mansion has a past which goes some ways to explaining why it has stayed empty for over a decade.

A past that begins to make itself know to John shortly after he moves in. Loud banging at a certain time of the morning, the faucets turning on and windows shattering from the inside. It’s all very spooky stuff, which John frustratingly takes in his stride.

However, even he begins to get concerned when he discovers a boarded-up door hidden in a closet. On the other side of the door is some stairs that leads to a hidden child’s bedroom.

As John begins to investigate, he discovers dark and terrible things happened in this house.

A kick-ass story, The Changeling is way more than your average haunted house film. With twists and turns a-plenty, it will keep you on the edge of your seat right until the end. The sort of thing you don’t want spoiled for you. That’s where The Changeling’s strength lies.

Elsewhere, it might not be so enjoyable.

Looking for scares? They’re not here. This isn’t an age thing or a desensitised thing. It’s simply that The Changeling doesn’t do the chill factor well and a lot of that falls at the feet of George C. Scott’s John.

He’s a great actor and really doesn’t do a bad job here. The problem is that his character just never seems to be fazed by anything! He is frustratingly rooted in reality, to the point that any tension building or potentially eerie moments just fall flat.

Imagine exploring a haunted house with someone who constantly stops you to explain how that noise was the pipes or that chill wind is coming from a broken window. Scary, huh?

It’s a real problem because it rips you out of the immersion, something the story works so hard to do. That makes it less of a classic and more of just a great horror movie. Which is certainly nothing to complain about.

The Changeling
  • The Final Score - 7.5/10
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