HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Birth of the Dragon
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Thelma
Stratton
February
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Changeling, The There's A Ghost In My HouseBuy this film here.
Year: 1980
Director: Peter Medak
Stars: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Madeleine Sherwood, Jean Marsh, John Colicos, Helen Burns, Frances Hyland, Barry Morse, Ruth Springford, Eric Christmas
Genre: Horror
Rating:  7 (from 5 votes)
Review: Composer John Russell (George C. Scott) has been struck with tragedy when his wife and daughter were killed in a road accident while on holiday. Months later, although he still has not recovered from his loss, he takes a job as a university lecturer and moves into a local mansion. However, all is not well in the old, dark house, and John starts to hear booming sounds resounding around the walls, then taps turn themselves on when nobody is looking. Investigating, John discovers a hidden attic room where the heart of the hauntings appears to lie, but whose is the spirit that refuses to let him rest - and why?

A sombre haunted house tale for the most part, The Changeling was scripted by William Gray and Diana Maddox, from a story by Russell Hunter. It is careful to set up an atmosphere of foreboding and eerie menace, and the house is almost a character in itself, with its gloomy passageways and staircases. At first we believe John, played with appropriate gravity by Scott, is being visited by the ghost of his dead daughter: he keeps her rubber ball as a memento, and can't get her death out of his mind. But then it transpires that the house has a history, and the ghost is connected with the wealthy family who lived there at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The ghost has obviously settled on John as its centre of attention because of the composer's bereavement - misery loves company, after all. Therefore the first half of the film is expertly arranged for the utmost spookiness; the rubber ball bounces down the hall stairway, so John takes it to a bridge and throws it into the water. Once he gets home, yes, the ball bounces back down the stairs again, as if to say, "You're not getting rid of me that easily." John then calls in the psychics for a seance, a well-researched and powerful scene, with automatic writing and point-of-view shots of the spirit prowling around the corridors. A spot of EVP rounds off the sequence, by which John works out the true identity of the spectre.

Unfortunately, the traditional ghost story, of which this has been a fine example up to the halfway point, is not nearly as robust as the film makers seem to think it is. What is most effective as a delicate, creepy account tends to fall apart when things go over the top, as they do here. Egged on by supernatural means, John tracks down the corpse of the ghost in a well underneath a different house, and links the whole murderous affair of over sixty years ago to an elderly senator (Melvyn Douglas). Then avarice raises its ugly head, and what was a good detective story takes on a conspiratorial tone.

Once the ghost starts getting carried away by killing off one of the characters, The Changeling becomes silly. For a film with a reputation for being quietly chilling, the booms, door slammings, runaway wheelchairs and other extreme behaviour shatter the previously spooky air and it all turns VERY LOUD. By concentrating more on the angle of John's tenacious hold on grief and how it linked to the ghost's equally tenacious hold on the living, a touching, more resonant story could have resulted. Instead, we are offered the spectacle of paranormal explosions and hurricane-force winds. The first stages remain more effective. Music by Rick Wilkins.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 8933 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Peter Medak  (1937 - )

Variable Hungarian-born director who alternates between the big screen and the small screen. Arthouse hits like Negatives, satire The Ruling Class and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg gave way to comedy - Zorro: The Gay Blade - and classy horror - The Changeling. In the nineties, he went from gangster movie The Krays to morbid thriller Romeo is Bleeding to over-the-top sci-fi sequel Species II.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
The Elix
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
   

 

Last Updated: