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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.44%
Average: 4.44%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 33 user ratings

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Changeling, The
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by Brian McKay

"Wheelchairs are frickin' SCARY, man!"
5 stars

I was talking to a friend on the instant messenger tonight, and we got on the topic of horror movies. When she tossed out THE CHANGELING as one of her favorites, I did a double-take. She's probably the first person I've known under the age of thirty whose ever even heard of this film (besides an ex-girlfriend, who I forced to watch it, and who fell asleep on me halfway through it. Chicks, man!)

A skillfully-made ghost story with an excellent cast (Led by the impeccable George C. Scott), this is one of my all-time favorites. Occasionally, it even works its way into those "Top Ten Scariest Movies of All Time" lists that film critics like to put out every Halloween. Though many horror films from the decade may seem painfully dated now, The Changeling holds up just fine today - provided one has the patience and imagination for a richly-detailed and meticulously paced ghost story.

When John Russell (George C. Scott) loses his family in a roadside accident, he becomes despondent and moves out of the apartment they once shared. He takes a job as a music professor in another city, and manages to rent a massive (and creepy-looking) house due to his connection with a friend (Trish Van Devere) who works at the local historical society. Before he can even settle in, things begin to go bump in the night. The more he investigates the source of the strange banging sounds coming from upstairs, the more secrets he discovers about the house and the influential family that once lived there.

I know what you're thinking - "Yeah, yeah, it sounds like every other ghost story made in the past 50 years." True, the premise is not terribly new or original, but the film rises above convention with some fantastic acting (did you ever see George C. Scott give a performance you didn't like?) and a careful layering of supernatural rumblings and clue-gathering that makes for a compelling two hours. The film sucks you in, layer by layer and scene by scene, until the ghostly presence fully manifests itself (in the form of an empty, self-propelled wheelchair) in some of the creepiest scenes of all time. After watching this, you'll never look at an empty wheelchair the same way again. There's also a seance scene that made the back of my neck crawl.

If there is any fault to be found, it would probably lay with the occasionally stilted or over-expository dialogue. There is also an inherent weakness, in that so many elements of this story have been done before. It could have quickly sunk into the morass of cliche', were it not for some excellent filmmaking and the usual powerhouse performance from Scott.

THE CHANGELING is proof that they just don't make them like this anymore. Along with films like THE SHINING and THE OTHERS, this is one of the best haunted house movies made in the past quarter-century.

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originally posted: 03/17/04 13:16:48
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User Comments

10/21/17 jack burton it took me years to pick up a rubber ball again 5 stars
10/02/16 morris campbell one of my favorites 5 stars
4/08/16 David Hollingsworth One of the most elegant and creepy films I've ever seen. 5 stars
3/29/15 The look on Scott's face when his daughter's rubber ball "bounced back" -- priceless! 5 stars
4/04/11 dupadoit it rocks 5 stars
3/01/11 Thumper I love to entertain guests and scare the hell out of them. Best ever film! 5 stars
11/13/09 brian The ultimate proof you don't need violence/blood/gory effects to make a terrifying picture. 5 stars
1/20/09 Camilo Espinoza De las mejores peliculas sobre fantasmas 5 stars
10/10/08 Elizabeth Peters Wheelchair, rubber ball, wispering Joseph... 5 stars
6/18/08 GutterBall This flick terrified me as a kid, and that kid breathing his name? Wicked jeebies, man. 5 stars
4/24/08 Army Medic I've done 2 combat tours in Iraq and this movie still scares me silly! Scariest movie ever! 5 stars
9/11/07 Indrid Cold A few good scares, but understandably an all-but-forgotten movie. 3 stars
8/24/07 Holly one of the creepiest i've ever seen. Loved it 5 stars
7/25/07 Martin One great scene after the other, the best acted and creepiest film score in years 5 stars
4/21/07 Aiken Drum If you can make a childs rubber ball one of the scariest images of all time then marvelous 5 stars
3/28/07 fools♫gold Only outdated if you're too moody for it. 4 stars
11/06/06 Chris never heard of it but rented it. It is an excellent movie! 5 stars
11/10/05 b.i.r it was agreat movie,but the music got to me 4 stars
11/06/05 David Fowler Perfectly written, acted, directed, & scored. The BEST ghost story on film....Period. 5 stars
9/26/05 Steve Miller One of the best horror movies ever made! 5 stars
6/22/05 Cesar If only they made movies like this now! 5 stars
7/20/04 sada the perfect film 5 stars
4/14/04 slayathon I'm glad someone else remembers the benefit of this movie to the horror genre 5 stars
4/01/04 Bob Thompson A good movie with scary elements! 4 stars
3/26/04 Alfred Guy A well-made classic movie. A must see. 5 stars
3/14/04 susan arledge i love it! 5 stars
1/19/04 Nicholas Becker If you have seen scary movies in the past 20 years, then you won't be scared by this one. 3 stars
10/22/03 I am having SEX Fucking sexy 4 stars
4/06/03 Christina This was the most scariest movies ever 5 stars
3/04/03 y2mckay This movie has SEVERAL great scenes. The quintessential haunted house story. 5 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Not quite worthy of its praise. Still, it's taut and very atmospheric. Scott is first-rate. 4 stars
10/26/02 Charles Tatum One of the scariest movies ever 5 stars
3/04/01 Movie MAN Almost as good as poltergist 5 stars
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  28-Mar-1980 (R)
  DVD: 12-Sep-2000



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