The Changeling (1980)


George C. Scott stars in this creepy ghost story about a grieving widower who moves into a historic mansion where a young child was murdered over seventy years ago. As the child’s spirit communicates with Scott’s character, he’s able to begin an investigation into who the child was and why they were killed. Only then will the haunting cease!

The Changeling is one of those great horror movies that gets under your skin without any gore or explicit violence. It reminds me a bit of Robert Wise’s The Haunting in its ability to wring suspense out of darkened sets and sound effects. Director Peter Medak (Species II, The Krays) gets maximum chill-factor out of a dusty old child’s wheelchair, a bouncing rubber ball, and the playback of a recorded seance. I love how the mystery unfolds, especially when Scott embarks on finding the place where the child’s bones have been hidden (the film must surely have inspired Ringu and The Ring). It’s also nice to see the story open up in the third act, turning from an intimate nightmare to one affecting the local government.

With Melvyn Douglas, Trish Van Devere, and Jean Marsh.

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