The Changeling

( 25 )

Overview

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...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Though woefully uneven as a filmmaker, director Peter Medak did outstanding work on this solid horror sleeper, which deservedly won 1980's Genie Award for Best Picture. Few American or Canadian thrillers have taken a central cliché as worn-thin as the haunted house and reinvented it as ingeniously as Medak does here. Working from a script by William Gray and Diana Maddox, Medak uses as one of his central characters the possessed home into which widower John Russell George C. Scott moves. Via intelligent aural and visual choices, a careful avoidance of sensationalism, and the Artaudian depth that Stanley Kubrick employed at about the same time in The Shining, Medak somehow manages to create one of the most authentic and fully realized onscreen environments in horror movie history. Save a single effects-heavy supernatural sequence, everything is wisely understated yet chilling -- from the faint tinkling of the piano that Russell overhears emanating from the parlor to the soft bouncing of Russell's dead daughter's rubber ball down an empty staircase late at night, Medak fills the frame with unforgettable sounds and images. Within the boundaries of a mechanistic supernatural thriller, the picture is first-rate, and the plot ingenious -- it recalls the equally brilliant premise of The Silent Partner from the same producers, made a couple of years prior. In fact, the backstory explanation for the strange events that unfold in the house is not only fully literate, but carries the thrill of real-life discovery. It is only when one looks outside of these boundaries that the picture falls short of perfection. Medak, Gray, and Maddox leave some dramatic strings untied as the narrative rolls forward. The human story -- of Russell's attempts to work through the grieving process following his wife and daughter's death -- becomes subservient to the plot mechanism in this picture, to such a degree that the filmmakers completely abandon half of their tale -- the arc that would show John arriving at inner peace. And in the end, if The Changeling soars on a supernatural level, it falls apart on a deeper one -- in regard to Russell's story. This represents the film's only larger weakness; a smaller one involves Medak's ham-handed shot choices in the first act. The problem eventually rectifies itself, however, for the devices fall into place as the story rolls on, and mesh beautifully with its supernatural elements to such a degree that we instinctively adjust to them. If Medak and Gray had interwoven the arcs of John and the movie's apparition a spirit named Joseph Carmichael, and had given us a full transition for each, and if Medak had approached the first act with a bit more aesthetic subtlety, The Changeling might have been spectacular instead of merely superb. Still, despite scattered weaknesses, The Changeling's accomplishments are quite admirable -- it remains one of the most unsettling supernatural thrillers in recent memory. And the denouement never fails to satisfy. This gore-free movie can really sink its teeth into the viewer and chill its audience to the core. Give it a chance.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/13/1993
  • UPC: 026359063039
  • Original Release: 1980
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Home Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George C. Scott John Russell
Trish VanDevere Claire Norman
Melvyn Douglas Sen. Joe Carmichael
John Colicos DeWitt
Jean Marsh Joanna Russell
Barry Morse Dr. Pemberton
James Douglas Eugene Carmichael
Madeleine Thornton-Sherwood Mrs. Norman
Roberta Maxwell Eva Lingstrom
Bernard Behrens Prof. Robert Lingstrom
Frances Hyland Elizabeth Grey
Ruth Springford Minnie Huxley
Helen Burns Leah Harmon
Eric Christmas Albert Harmon
Hagan Beggs Coroner
J. Kenneth Campbell Security Guard
Chris Gampel Tuttle
Anna Hagan Secretary
Terence Kelly Sergeant Durton
Janne Mortil Linda Grey
Antonia Rey Estancia
Paul Rothery Terry Grey
John Russell
Sammy Smith Doorman
Technical Credits
Peter Medak Director
John Coquillon Cinematographer
Garth H. Drabinsky Producer
Dennis Drummond Sound/Sound Designer
Patrick Drummond Sound/Sound Designer
Reuben Freed Art Director
William Gray Screenwriter
Robert Grieve Sound/Sound Designer
Dewey Gene Grigg Special Effects
Gene Griggs Special Effects
Joe Grimaldi Sound/Sound Designer
Austin Grimaldi Sound/Sound Designer
Russell Hunter Original Story
Mario Kassar Executive Producer
Lilla Ledersen Editor
Lou Lombardo Editor
Diana Maddox Screenwriter
Joel B. Michaels Producer
Dino Pigat Sound/Sound Designer
Karl Scherer Sound/Sound Designer
Irby Smith Asst. Director
Andrew G. Vajna Executive Producer
Ken Wannberg Score Composer
Roberta Weiner Costumes/Costume Designer
Rick Wilkins Score Composer
Trevor Williams Production Designer, Set Decoration/Design
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    One of my favorite movies!

    One of my favorite movies!

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Old School Scary

    I saw this movie a long time ago and just remembered it recently while talking with my wife about films that had me biting my nails. I saw this movie in a theater which enhanced my fear, nothing like seeing a good film on a big screen with great audio. The Changeling had me jumping out of my seat numerous times and I was relieved when it was over, this movie is frightening. Unlike flicks today they didn't rush the show, they didn't rely on fancy special effects to thrill the audience, they just employed good old story telling techniques to get the message across, they bring you in with an interesting story line and slowly begin to terrify you. See this movie in the dark and preferably with someone you can cling to for support during the scary parts, its worth the few dollars it cost to buy the DVD, enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The scariest movie I ever saw

    This movie will send chills down your spine and make the hair stand up on your arms & legs. There is no blood no gore - it doesn't need that. It will scare you from deep within. Do not watch it alone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The relatively unknown best ghost story movie

    I watched this movie for the first time in 1985 when I was 8yrs old. I thought it was very scary and buy that time the Friday the 13ths, and Nightmare on Elm Streets blood and guts shock you for the scare movies were all the rage. So even at that young age I could appreciate a great scary movie when I seen it. Later on, when I was 17 I tried to rent it at a video store and what a task it was just to find it. Three stores were required to finally locate it. I bought it at a video store a month ago. Another challenge. The Changeling is a great movie which can be appreciated by multiple generations, yet it is relatively unknown. On multiple occations when discussing my favorite movies, I have gotten the response, "The Changeling??, I have never heard of that movie". I love George C. Scott's performance. It would take a very strong nerves of steal type of person to explore and investigate sounds in the most remote locations of the scary house and he really pulls it off convincingly. Unlike most people who would run out of that house, he ran into the house, going deeper and deeper searching for the source and the truth behind the disturbances. Would you be able to walk up two large flights of stairs and beyond all alone in an enormous old house which is evidently haunted?? If you want to see someone with that strength and determination along with so many other great features of this classic, buy the movie and share it with your friends and family. Once you watch it for the first time you will be surprised why so many people have never heard of it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great!

    One of my very favorite films! The Changeling is truly a GHOST story and not just a horror movie; full of suspense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Ultimate suspense

    I first saw this movie about 20 years ago and thought it was the scariest movie ever! To this day, I still believe that it is one of the best "edge of your seat" movies ever written. This movie allows for your imagination to go wild which only makes it more suspenseful. I'm buying the DVD since it's not in movie stores. Enjoy!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Old fashioned sit by the fire spine tingling/sad suspence - loved it !!

    the heading says it all

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the BEST!!

    This is absolutely one of the best, if not THE best, ghost story/scary movie I have ever seen! George C. Scott is fabulous, the cinematography is gorgeous and that house is unbelievable. I highly recommend this movie for any ghost story enthusiast!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Absolutely the best - Will stay in your head forever

    This is one of those movies that you see and never forget. George C. Scott is fantastic. The director succeeds mostly because the story is so well-fleshed out and because you can identify with the entire tragedy of the plot. I have never walked up a long stairwell in a house and not thought of this film. It will make you think twice before going into an old attic or down into a basement. In a sense, the house in the film is the strongest character of all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Old-Fashion Scary!

    I remember watching this movie at a girls sleep over when i was about 9 years old. I am now 28 and it still scares the **** out of me. From the music, to the banging that he hears every morning, to the ball that keeps showing up....this is a must for EVERYONE. No blood, no gore, no make -up supernatural effects. This is a true classic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Greatest movie

    This is the scariest movie that I have watched tons of times. Every time I watch it, it still manages to scare the daylights out of me. One of the best horror movies ever made!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Still spine chilling after 20 years.

    The year was 1981 and I was 11 years old when I first came upon the film by accident. I would love to see how the film ends but, just as when I was 12 (I am now 33) cannot bring myself to see the film again for 2 reasons. Firstly: the tape play back after the seance. But Secondly - one the still shocks the daylights out of me TO THIS DAY is: the lifeless face of the drowned boy in the bathtub! Enough Said.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Very Creepy

    This is a solid, old-fashioned psychological ghost/haunted house story. George C. Scott is outstanding as a grief-stricken husband and father who rents the afore-mentioned haunted house. The story makes sense and there are really no unanswered questions at the end. There isn't really any outright terror, but just an element of creepiness that builds increasingly until the climax. Although it's over twenty years old, it still holds up really well. In fact, elements in two recent movies I've seen made me think immediately of ''The Changeling'', even though it's been years since I saw it. The first was Bruce Willis' audio-tape analysis sequence in ''The Sixth Sense''; the second was the seance at the end of ''The Others'' (another good haunted house movie), only there seen from the perspective of the dead rather than the living.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This is the BEST SCARY MOVIE

    I love this movie. It has suspense that builds from the opening scene. The movie does not rely on blood and gore to frighten you, it merely weaves its way into your mind creating fear from the unseen. If you are looking for a movie with that ''lost art'' of suspense and horror you will love this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Horror Films

    Best Horror Film I recomend All People to watch it This Fim Is more Scary Than Exorsist THIS film diplays the horror that uve been waiting for enjoy the film

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One, if not THE Best Ghost story!

    I've now seen this film about 7-8 times over the years in the company of different groups of friends who never even heard of it before. After seeing it, they love it, and have nightmares about it! And these are people of varying age groups, proving the scare factor of the movie is timeless! The cinematography, music and feel are simply eerie because ghost believers might just think... This can really happen in a real haunting! If you need further evidence that this is a great movie, I give you three things: 1) The bouncing ball, 2) The tape playback, and 3) The wheelchair chase scene. I'm getting chills just remembering them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    My review of ''The Changeling''.

    It´s actually some years ago that i first heard about this spinechilling movie. A friend of mine told me of how she´d been genuinely moved by it´s frightening theme. Since then i´ve been going on thinking one day i´ll get to see it myself. Certainly this urge became an obsession till once i finally looked it up on a rare VHS-copy. Well, belive me, all my expectations on this movie is totally fulfilled. It´s one hell of a scary ghost-movie. The Changeling has got all the right dark moods, the chilly atmosphere, the ghostly music-score. Everything. If you´re into movies like ''The Shining'', ''Omen (I)'' or ''Amityville (I)'' belive me - this IS the lost gem for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    SCARY AS ALL GET OUT!!!

    THE CHANGELING WAS ONE OF THE VERY FIRST HORROR MOVIES I EVER SAW AND I WAS ABOUT 11 YRS OLD WHEN I SAW IT. IT WAS WITH OUT A DOUBT THE SCARIEST MOVIE I HAD EVER SEEN. IT SCARED ME. THIS IS A GREAT MOVIE TO SEE IF YOU LIKE TO BE SCARED!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Absolutely Chilling!!

    If you'd like to see a wonderfully crafted, postively spooky film that you will never tire of, this is it!! Every time I see it, I get chills. It isn't bloody, it is just a cleverly written, classic ghost story. An absolute must!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A really spooky movie!!

    This is a true masterpiece of a ghost story. There are thrills and (alot) of chills around every turn,This is I have to say this is the best ghost story ever in my opinion.I am a fan of ghost stories book verson and film verson and to me there is none better than ''The Changeling''

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews