The Changeling (1980)
the changeling | peter medak | william gray | diana maddox | george c. scott | trish van devere | melvyn douglas | canada | ghost | haunted | haunted house | jean marsh | john colicos | barry morse | madeleine sherwood | helen burns | frances hyland | ruth springford
Film: The Changeling
Director: Peter Medak
Writer: William Gray and Diana Maddox
Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere and Melvyn Douglas
This is interesting ghost film that I had heard a lot about, but never had actually watched. The synopsis for this film is a man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre.
Coming into this film I had seen the cover, but didn’t know a lot about it to be honest. I had just heard that it is one of the better ghost films out there. I can say that after seeing this, I have to agree there. The film does have a sad start to it as John Russell’s (George C. Scott) family passes away. He decides to take a teaching job in Seattle and moves into a mansion that is protected by the historical society. He is shown the place by Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere). She takes a liking to him and pushes his paperwork through pretty fast to move in.
While living there we learn that there is a terrible secret that is hidden there. It involves the head of the society and Senator Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas). I thought that the story moves a little bit quickly in the beginning, but once it starts to get into the investigation of everything that is going on, it had me hooked. There are some nice reveals to the film and the tension builds with the more information that is learned about what happened here. The ending also has a tie-in with the name of the film which I thought was good as well. We get a satisfying conclusion to this film.
To go along with this film great story, the acting was solid as well. Scott is such an underrated actor. I’ve seen him in quite a few films and he just kills whatever role he takes on. He not only commands the screen, but he also is a character you just like. Devere is pretty in an older way and I thought she does great as his female support for the film. Douglas has a menacing way about him and it mirrors Scott for sure. I thought the rest of the cast rounds out what the film needed very well. I have no complaints here.
There aren’t in a lot in the way of effects for the film, but I think that is actually a benefit to this one. We get the normal ghost things happening like sounds and doors closing or opening on their own. That helps to build the tension. We never get a misty projection of the spirits, but that can come off cheesy. I think this film handles the use of ghosts very well with a believable look.
Something I did have some issue with though was the editing of the film. I like the build of the story and feel this one does have a little bit of an issue there. The film moves rapidly from what happens to Russell’s family to him moving into the house and then everything starting to happen there. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on, but then I feel that the film finds itself and then is solid from that point on. The tension of the film builds throughout and is definitely capped off with an ending that was worth what we saw before it.
Something else I was impressed with was the sound design of the film. Much of the music is ambient in that it comes from the film and the characters can hear it. Russell is a famous pianist so he is playing which is some of the music we hear. There is also a music box that is used as well. I feel that the score of the film fits what it needed and helps in building of the tension of the film.
Now with that said, I don’t really have a lot negative to say about this film. I thought it was good. The story is very interesting, but it does move a bit rapidly early on. I think this is partly an editing issue. The film does right itself and together both are good from that point on. I thought the acting was very good as well. I was impressed there. The effects are pretty much non-existent, but I think for being a ghost film it doesn’t hurt the film at all. Some tend to go cheesy here so I’m glad this doesn’t fall into that. The sound design of the film is also solid. Overall I would definitely recommend giving this a viewing. The film had me spooked and it is one of the better ghost films I’ve seen out there.
My Rating: 8 out of 10