The Changeling (1980)

the changeling movie poster 1980
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Classic ghost story

More atmospheric than what you'd expect from the presentation

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Changeling

Studio:  Chessman Park Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

the changeling george c scott 1980

What goes bump in the night?

John Russell (George C. Scott) is trying to come to terms with losing his wife and daughter in a tragic accident.  Renting a home in Seattle, Russell finds himself immediately thrust into a supernatural mystery when he begins to see and hear things in the old home.  Teaming with Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere), John learns that a child might have died in the home and exposing the child’s ties to a senator named Joseph Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas) could be John’s only chance at peace.

Directed by Peter Medak, The Changeling is a supernatural thriller.  The film is written by Russell Hunter who based the story on some of his experiences in a Denver home.  The movie was well received and has gained a cult following over the years.

the changeling wheelchair attack trish van devere

Attack of the wheelchair from hell!

I always remember The Changeling’s VCR box (which was a mock-up of the poster).  A creepy wheelchair casting a shadow of a ghostly figure…it is the thing of drugstore horror novels and childhood nightmares.  I always wanted to love, love The Changeling, but instead I just like The Changeling .

The movie does have a good story, though it might be a bit misleading.  The movie is more of a mystery and less horror based than the poster might imply.  It is a ghost story in the most classic sense and if you expect monsters popping out all over the place in a haunted house, you’ll be disappointed.  The movie is basically a guy trying to solve a problem of a haunting.  It actually has aspects of movies like Ringu (which followed it) and Full Circle aka The Haunting of Julia (which preceded it)…making it have a really familiar feel to the horror.

Scott is good as the gruff John who is plagued with the death of his family though he almost feels like he’s just there…it doesn’t seem to shock or surprise him throughout the course of the story that the dead are contacting him to solve a mystery.  He’s teamed with his real life wife Trish Van Devere and classic actor Melvyn Douglas.  Other costars include John Colicos, Barry Morse, and Jean Marsh.

the changeling ending fire

The past comes back to haunt you…

The movie has a lot of atmosphere which works for it.  As mentioned, it isn’t a real jump-based horror and is instead a creeping horror (which I don’t thinks is aptly represented by the poster).  The creeping horror really works with the gothic home, but people going in with high expectation of a horror-horror film might be disappointed.

The Changeling is a strong ghost story movie.  Without a ton of jumps, it is more an atmospheric piece and that might not be for everyone.  It is the type of movie that has you questioning the bumps you hear in the night and if there could be something lurking in the darkness of your basement.  Turn off the lights, and enjoy a classic ghost story that has influences films that followed it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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