It was the perfect family vacation for composer John Russell and his family when a freak automobile accident claims the lives of his wife and daughter. Consumed by grief, John, at the request of friends, rents an old turn of the century house. Mammoth in size, the house seems all the room that John needs to write music and reflect. He does not realize that he is not alone in the house. He shares it with the spirit of a child who has homed in on John's despair and uses him to uncover decades of silence and deceit. With the help of Claire Norman, the one who aided John in procuring the house, they race to find the answers and soon learn that a devious and very powerful man guards them.
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Chilling ghost story
"The Changeling" tells the story of a composer (George C. Scott) who, as the film opens, loses his wife and daughter in a tragic accident. Getting away from it all, Scott buys an old home to get his mind right and to get back to doing the work he loves. Soon he discovers that his house is haunted and filled with secrets waiting to be revealed. To say much more then that would be unfair to the first time viewer.
Suffice to say this is a chilling film with several good scares that aren't achieved by manipulating the audience. By that I mean loud chords of music on the soundtrack or the unexpected cry of a cat or something like that. "The Changeling" works for its scares and succeeds. Another big reason the film is so well done is the performance by Scott. For a change the hero in a ghost story is not a wimp but a strong, self assured man who is going to fight to the bitter end to find the truth and get his life back. Very few actors could have pulled it off better then Scott.
The supporting cast is headed by Melvyn Douglas (in one of his last roles) and Scott's wife, Trish Van Devere who projects a look of total terror as well as anyone I have seen.
Two moments that stand out are the séance scene which is eerie and the unexpected arrival of a child's toy ball. This film will give you shivers. If you are a fan check it out and make sure to watch it with a loved one cuddling up against you with all the lights turned out.
A Real Haunted House Thriller!
Horror films have become caricature's over the years. They contain characters, situations, and elements you've seen before. The exceptions have been THE SIXTH SENSE and SCREAM. THE SIXTH SENSE cleverly turned the ghost genre on it's head and SCREAM mocked the slasher genre while still providing some good thrills. However, there is only one film when it comes to the haunted house genre.
Peter Medak's THE CHANGELING is everything a horror film should be. It's suspenseful, well acted, contains an intelligent plot, and uses no special effects or gore to obtain it's objective. It generates real fear.
George C. Scott plays John Russell. He's a man trying to endure the tragic loss of his wife and daughter. He rents a mysterious, old house from the Historical Society where he can compose out of. He's an accomplished piano player and takes a job teaching piano at a University. He's got quite the reputation as the size of the class is monstrous.
Soon, things begin to get strange. Every morning there are loud, banging noises from upstairs in the house. These noises lead to a bedroom where a child's wheelchair is found and an old music box that plays an identical song to the one Russell's been composing. It gets even more terrifying from there as Russell investigates the history of the house with the help of Claire, a beautiful member of the Historical Society, played by Trish Van Devere. Scott and Van Devere have a natural chemistry and it may be due to the fact that they were really married.
Russell finds out some surprising secrets after a terrifying Seance. The secrets lead him to Senator Joseph Carmichel, played by the great Melvyn Douglas. Carmichel tries to keep everything quiet but the dead have a way of tormenting the living and keeping old secrets alive.
A great horror film can derive fear from even the simplest things. In this film a child's ball rolling down the stairs will make your hair stand up on end. There's also a piano striking a chord without a player, and a glass flying off a table and shattering during a Seance. This film is filled with those simple things and a whole lot more.
Today's films are filled with quick cuts, computer generated effects, and loud scores. This film achieves it's objective in a much more subtle fashion. It's characters are real people and not just reactors. It's story is intelligent and well told. Finally, it's effect is chilling and stays with you long after the experience, the mark of a truly great horror film.
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Very scary and atmospheric horror film
In this sadly forgotten horror film, George C. Scott plays a music composer who has just moved to Oregon to escape the painful memories of his wife and daughter who were killed in a car crash. He rents an old and secluded mansion from the historical society as a place to live. Soon after he moves into the house, strange occurrences begin.
This is one of those horror movies that can be scary without being bloody and gory. It simply relies on atmosphere and frightening, but subtle images to deliver its chills, and it works. I will never be able to understand that "R" rating mainly because there is only very mild profanity and there is no blood or gore. Anyway, I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good scary ghost story. 8/10.