Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Changeling

Peter Medak | 1980 | Canada | 107 min

Why did I wait so long to watch this?! I've long been a fan of Peter Medak's crime offerings like Let Him Have It, The Krays, and Romeo is Bleeding, but I have avoided his work outside that genre. This is possibly due to his name having been attached to un-crimey fare like Species 2 and Pontiac Moon. However, long before any of that, Medak was proving his mettle with this old fashioned haunted house film. Old fashioned, but perfectly paced and thoroughly chilling.

George C. Scott stars as John Russell, a famous composer who has moved across the country and into a stately historical mansion to start life anew following the tragic accidental deaths of his wife and daughter. It takes only short time before things in the home start feeling amiss and the bumps-in-the-night begin. Russell is led to boarded up room in his attic where he begins to piece together the story of a boy who was murdered there in 1909. As Russell tries to uncover who was responsible he becomes embroiled in both a larger conspiracy and the difficult reminders of losing his own family.

Despite a grander plot than traditional haunted house films, The Changeling never strays far from it roots. It is a taut story and rife with good scares. George C. Scott seems an unlikely choice, but he does a great job countering the traditional screaming lead as a man who is essentially just pissed off that his home's spectre is preventing him from getting on with his life. To be fair, though, that kid's ghost was an impossible to please fucking brat.

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