The Changeling, possibly one of the most technically proficient and somewhat serious ghost stories I’ve seen in recent times gets the remaster treatment onto Blu-ray in this special edition courtesy of Second Sight Films.
Directed by Peter Medak and starring George C. Scott, the story begins in tragic fashion as composer John Russel (Scott) witnesses his wife and kid both wiped out at the hands of a run-away truck. Following their death, he relocates into an old house which has a bit of a reputation with its tenants for “not wanting them there”. Its not long before the house begins to interact with Russel, goading him into investigating its past – which includes conflict with political figures and corruption within the authorities. We follow Russel as he investigates reasons for the manifestations, and the mystery surrounding the persons involved.
What strikes you first about this film is its quality of production, and on Blu-ray I can unequivocally say the picture quality has never looked better, enhancing an already technically impressive film. Perhaps a bit grainy on the outside shots, the shots from inside the house look crisp and only further enhances the interesting cinematography. Scott’s acting is on point and contrary to the campy trends of films which would follow in the same decade, ‘The Changeling’ has a serious tone throughout, even its supernatural elements are dealt pragmatically by characters. Credit to the writers, the plot is interesting and builds up mystery and intrigue as the film progresses.
There is a small trade in this, however, as the added complexity to the plot means that that bar a few decent set-pieces the physical scares are a little scarce. Whilst we are spared any cheesy ghost effects, most of spectral interactions come from misplaced objects and other spooky ‘clues’ left by the ghost to help solve its mysteries. That said, a brooding atmosphere, catalysed by the films solemn opener keeps the film feeling traditionally creepy. Despite the lack of jump scares the film has at least a couple effective and iconic scenes, most noticeable the wheelchair chase sending shivers down your spine, and of course the bouncing ball which has been the recipient of many a homage over the years.
Overall, as a haunted house film it’s a solid entry. Its possibly not the first movie you might grab for if you are wanting a night of frights – and possibly the complete opposite end of the spectrum from modern ghost-train affairs such as ‘Insidious’, but it has its place. Like many of our readers, I have a soft spot for ‘traditional’ ghost stories, they might be slightly more reserved in terms of their jolts, but they come off having somewhat more integrity, perhaps standing up to the long-term test of time as a result? This is certainly the case for ‘The Changeling’ as it gets its HD re-release some 28 years after its original release.
Second Sights release is chocked full of definitive extras and limited-edition goodies and can be picked up from Amazon.co.uk.