The Changeling (1980) – Peter Medak

Next up in DK Canada’s immensely enjoyable Monsters in the Movies, is the classic Canadian horror (shot in Vancouver and featuring some homegrown talent), The Changeling, a wonderful addition to the ghost chapter I am currently delving into.

After his wife and child are killed in an accident while on vacation, composer John Russell (George C. Scott), having issues dealing with his grief, rents a giant remote home to keep himself away from everyone, and try to lose himself in his work.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone. There is someone, some thing? in the historical society house with him. He is plagued by deafening sounds of hammering, strange noises, taps turned on by themselves, and the image of a drowned boy.

He begins to investigate, joined by Claire (Trish Van Devere) who helped him find the mansion, and discovers a closed off room in the heights of the building, and soon secrets and evil are unearthed.

Jump scares are almost nonexistent in this film, instead we are simply treated to a solid haunted house story grounded in the reality of one man’s loss, and it can get under your skin wonderfully.

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In fact the story follows the beats and moments that are now almost rote for haunted house films… opening doors, camera shots moving through the house symbolizing the presence, a paranormal investigation (in this case a seance with mediums). It’s all here but packaged wonderfully as the presence seems to want to latch itself onto John, and begs for help.

The truth of what happened in the house is revealed, but John has to find a way to put the spirit to rest. It’s a spooky mystery, and Scott brings it the necessary gravitas to ground the film and make it believable.

Things are found that lead to the secret murder, and hidden truths that have for years, protected a powerful man, but John is now determined to bring out the truth, reveal it, no matter the cost.

I love the supporting cast which includes Barry Morse, John Colicos, and Jean Marsh.

The film was wonderfully creepy, has themes that are familiar to all classic ghost stories, and with it’s lack of blood and real jump scares, this one may be suitable for some of those younger viewers who think that they are ready for something scary.

I’m not saying show it to young kids, especially the sensitive ones (this one would have messed me up as a kid – that freaking chair!) but if they’re ready, this may be a good place to start.

The haunts continue as I explore DK Books’ fantastic Monsters in the Movies. There’s lots more spookiness to come. Pick up a copy today and find something macabre and creepy to watch tonight!

Horror

 

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