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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Changeling

     "The Changeling" is one of the best ghost stories ever filmed.  There.  I said it.  A killer chiller from 1980, it stars the great George C. Scott as a man coping with the sudden and tragic death of his wife and daughter.  In a state of terrible grief, he moves to Washington state and rents an old mansion recommended from the Historical Society. At first glance, the house comes across as quite spooky, and it's not long before shit gets downright scary.

     This movie rocks.  This is the perfect ghost story.  .  It's full of classic haunted house cliches- the dark and windy nights, the cobwebbed stairs, the bumps in the night- it all works extremely well here.  "The Changeling" is hands down one of the best ghost stories of all time.  For a relatively small budget in 1980, this movie has far more imagination than any CGI-infested ghost flick today. Director Peter Medak creates incredible suspense here and a startling sense of dread- all with virtually no special effects.  It's all in the mood.  "The Changeling" positively reeks creepy atmosphere- and I dare you not to be scared when George C. Scott finally sees the "ghost".  Oh and this movie contains the most terrifying seance ever put on film.  Seriously.  It's a truly frightening scene that's masterfully carried out and packs a wallop.

      You can possibly see the influence of "The Changeling" in the American version of "The Ring"- Naomi Watts trying to unravel the mystery of the dead child is very similar in some aspects to George C. Scott and his story.  Sadly, many audiences today just can't relate to a slow-burn kind of movie like this one.  It moves a bit more slowly and surely- and once things are in full swing, you're totally committed and sucked in.  Interestingly enough, this movie works best watching it alone.  I've tried showing it to friends, and they just found it boring.  But alone, especially at night, with the dark quiet surrounding you- "The Changeling" is far more powerful.

       This is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen.  Writer Russell Hunter has said that "The Changeling" is based on his own personal experiences he had while living in the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion in Denver.  Martin Scorsese is a huge fan of  "The Changeling"- it's on his list of the scariest movies ever.  Stephen King has also praised the film. "The Changeling" ranked #54 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, and it most definitely deserves a spot on that list.  So, on that note, rent "The Changeling" from Netflix on a dark and stormy night.  Turn out the lights, settle down on the sofa, and enjoy a frightfully fun ghost story!

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