THE CHANGELING [1980] movie review

October 31, 2011 · Print This Article

THE CHANGELING is a fantastic scary movie for people, like me, who appreciate a modest level of scare that does not involve any gore or hideous monsters at all. THE CHANGELING is a haunted house movie, and one of the most praised of that genre. Again, it is not overly scary, but definitely creates an atmosphere of moderate creepiness that will not cause you to lose any sleep.

What stood out to me the most was the camerawork in THE CHANGELING. The camera moves in very creative & effective ways framing scenes for maximum interest. It shows how many modern movies are filmed in an extremely stagnant way, just tossing a camera on an unmoving tripod. The camera in THE CHANGELING takes us from ceiling view swooping down to table top, starts us at floor level watching a character ascend super creepy stairs, etc. Very well directed by Peter Medak.


The action is driving by a tragic accident on a snowy mountain road. A pianist & composer loses his wife and daughter in upstate New York, so soon thereafter moves to Seattle to take a university position there.


Naturally, he needs a place to live so rather strangely he makes arrangements to rent a cavernous mansion. When he asked the cost to rent it the scene cut. I really, really wanted to know what rent on a place like that went for! George C. Scott as the pianist though no doubt got a good deal by a staff member of the local historical society, played by his real life wife, Trish Van Devere, who I found to be a striking woman on screen exuding class.


Both Scott and Van Devere’s characters are infinitely braver than I am as neither is phased in the least by entering a tiny hallway previously hidden by a boarded up and padlocked door. The contents of the room drive the next branch of the story, a very clever murder mystery taking place mostly in that haunted house.


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