George C Scott portrays John Russell, a grieving widower that rents a historical mansion where things go “bump in the night.” Truthfully, it’s more of a “bang”, but it’s no less creepy. Searching to begin anew after tragically losing his family, Russell, a music composer, accepts a teaching job at university. With a new job comes a new life, new acquaintances – and a new home. New and scary. He has no idea what experiences are waiting for him; what mysteries he will help to unravel in The Changeling
Most of the scares come from sounds, and effectively so. In the tradition of The Haunting, loud disturbances haunt the rooms and halls. Joining the audible haunts are the ghostly cries of a young child. The background music is quite chilling as well. But there are plenty of terrifying images to accompany these sounds and cries. These are largely the ghostly recreations of tragedies past. In one scene in particular, a ghost submerged in water cries for help; his cries rise to the surface in bubbles. This scene is an example of awesome editing and creative synchronization of visuals and sound. In another scene, a locket and chain rise up from the soil of a well like a slithering snake. A decent scene indeed!
The drawback of this film has to do with the back-and-forth change in scenery. Just when the viewer is settling into the dark and chilling atmosphere of this dark house, the scene awkwardly changes to a busy street on a bright morning of another day. Too much time is spent solving mysteries outside of the house rather than in the very heart of the haunting.
However the overall story is good and the resolution – the reason this film is called “The Changeling” is intriguing indeed. This isn’t the best haunted house film out there but it has its redeeming moments. It is definitely worth seeing.