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Monday, February 1, 2010

Paranormal Activity has nothing on The Changeling



When you think of movies based on ghosts and hauntings, many films readily come to mind. Films such as Ringu, The Legend of Hell House, The Amityville Horror, The Shining, and now Paranormal Activity are usually on top of every list on the subject. While it is true that those are all very good examples and some classic tales, every once in a while, a film is made that outshines all of its peers, yet somehow strays far from popular and mainstream light.

In 1980, Director Peter Medak created a haunting masterpiece with The Changeling, an adaptation based on true events encountered by writer Russell Hunter during his stay at the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion in Denver, Colorado. In this often overlooked horror film, George C. Scott gives a tremendous performance, perfectly complimenting the eerie tone created by Medak. This is an ideal example of everything that can be great about a horror movie, reminding viewers that a film can be scary without the blood and gore, relying on atmosphere and subtle frightening images to deliver its chills.

The movie is centered on a famed and depressed composer, John Russell, who has relocated Washington State to overcome the tragic loss of his wife and daughter in a freak auto accident. Soon after moving into a mysterious gothic mansion owned by the historical society, strange occurrences start taking place. At first, the strange banging sounds seem to be but an annoyance. Unfortunately, they lead Scott down a pathway into the unknown. Soon, many dark secrets are uncovered inside and outside the house, eventually leading Scott to the truth behind the encounters.

Filled with simple, yet pointed scenes, the supernatural aura conjured by the child’s ball, the antique wheelchair, the hidden room and the séance is incredible. When you couple that with a well-crafted screenplay, a dynamic plot and a solid cast led Scott, Melvyn Douglas, and Scott's wife, Trish Van Devere and you have a film that will last for generations. The Changeling is everything a great film should be, obtaining fear without disgust, relying more on acting, substance and plot than special effects to achieve a much longer lasting impression. More importantly, it can and will stand the test of time.

As person that owns an antique wheelchair, it definitely sends chills down my spine!






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