The Changeling (1980)


Directed by: Marcel Sarmiento & Gadi Harel

Written by: Trent Haaga


George C. Scott .... John Russell
Trish Van Devere .... Claire Norman
Melvyn Douglas .... Senator Joe Carmichael

Special Appearances:

Barry Morse .... Dr. Pemberton
Madeleine Sherwood .... Mrs. Norman
Frances Hyland .... Mrs. Elzabeth Gray
John Colicos .... Captain DeWitt
Jean Marsh .... Joanna Russell

Release Date: Theatrical: March 28, 1980



A music teacher named John Russell (George C. Scott) witnesses a horrible tragic accident on his wife and child and to get over his grief he rents an old hotel to practise on writing his music but suddenly he hears strange sounds and water running in bathrooms with a hallucination on a drowning child as he finds out that the place is haunted from a tragedy of this child decades years ago and is communicating with him on John's despair and uses him to uncover decades of silence and deceit.
John goes to the aid of Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere), who helped him in procuring the house, tries to find missing clues on the spirit as well as bringing researchers to find out who this child was which leads to a living family member who must know the truth on what is happening.


There's good shots on the lead character John Russell at a payphone at a snowy area during the beginning of the film with a truck speeding close by and a car swerving on the other end with a good susenseful shot on a couple of children playing in the snow and then looking frightened. Then a good camera shot looking down on the truck swerving and smashing into the parked car which really grabs your attention thinking if they survived or not which looked incredibly distubring.
We spot a nice brief hallucination sequence with John playing a bouncing ball with one of the kids and a good shot on this child laughing.
There's a good shot on an alarm clock and then moving towards John with him crying after a dream which looked very believeable on how it was done.
There's lots of good camera shots on John and Claire Norman exploring the hotel which came together nicely.
Also a good camera shot looking into the hallways and then John playing the piano with him leaving the piano and then a great camera shot closing in on the piano keys which leaves a good impression somethings going to happen and then a piano key is pushed down by an invisible force.
There's also a nice shot on him playing the piano with a door being opened by a force which looked quite chilling.
A nice shot on a window glass suddenly breaking which makes you jump and other types of these moments too.
A good brief discussion between John and a supporting character Minnie Huxley with her serious attitude telling him to stay away from the house. The scene looked very impressive with an eccentric superstitious attitude.
Another good moment with John turning off some water and then hearing sounds all around him and reacting to it well with him walking in the hallways spotting a bathtub running and spotting someone drowned with a good shot on him looking shocked but at the same time expressionless.
More good shots on him looking into a cobweb attic and spotting a wheelchair and nice dark corridors on him walking up some stairs.
There's a great moment with a few supporting characters by trying to make communication with the spirits in the hotel and a great close up shot on one of them in a trance asking the spirit questions and writing in big letters on a piece of paper going out of control with another character answering when she's writing with a good shot on an audio recorder as this piece looked powerfully done.
There's many good camera takes on John playing around with the recorder afterwards by trying to hear ghostly sounds when he's rewinding and playing it.
There's a nice moment with a camera shot looking down on John yelling out of frustration.
A nice shot with a local walking in the dark and then spotting something horrifying with a nice scream.
There's a good discussion between John trying to tell Senator Joe Carmichael about his family background and the dangers in the hotel with a good moment with Joe acting stubborn about it all.
A good discussion with an inspector acting stern towards John in the hotel and suggesting for him to get help which looked quite tense.
Great shot on John going near a mirror and then suddenly the mirror shattering with a shot on Captain Dewitt dead in a broken windshield of a car that reflects on the mirror which totally makes you jump.
Nice moment with Claire crying hysterically in the hotel room calling out near a staircase and then a good shot on a wheelchair displaying at the top and tumbling down as well as a shot looking up on both her and John with a hall lights jingling and about to crash whick looked spooky and deadly.
Bottom line is that s o many people said that this was a great haunted house movie and I watched it. It does looks dark with some creepy type hauntings by special forces but yet it doesn't deliver too much scares but there are the odd jumping moments in the film. It seemed to borrow a bit from the Amityville Horror but nowhere near as effective.
There's alot of mysterious moments in the film with the main characters trying to get to the bottom of stuff which seemed quite entertaining but when they do it's not as suspenseful as you'd expect it to be at all in any way.
There's some good disturbing flashback scene's with a child being drowned and other suspense in the film which still makes this film watchable.
However, close to the ending of the film when the house goes wild with the hauntings and dangerous moments saves this flick from being considered just average.
The film is fairly well done and doesn't show any gore or anyone being killed from the hauntings proving that a horror film can get away with some scares of ghostly moments causing disturbences but the energy needed to be picked up that way. It's still dark looking with some windy sound effects which really made it appropriate for a haunted house type of flick.

The acting was quite good as George C. Scott (John Russell) delivered a nice character in his role as person grieving about his family and had a good gruff voice with his speaking and a nice seriousness to his role plus knew how to act aggressive and emotional too. He always was a natural character actor in many shows and can prove it well in this one.
Trish Van Devere
(Claire Norman) played a nice character in her part of the film as she does well acting soft spoken and having a nice calm attaitude. She also does well by breaking that moment towards the end of the film by crying in hysterics. She showed great timing with her part in the film and proved to be very worthy in her role for the story.
Melvyn Douglas
(Senator Joe Carmichael) does his job nicely even if he is not seen until halfway through the film showing a good closed minded and stubborn attitude. He really knew how to come across this way and was powerful about it in every way.
Frances Hyland
(Mrs. Elzabeth Gray) brought terrific expressionless emotions as a communicator to the spirit world not over doing it and really making her part very believeable to what she does and losing control of herself too which also looked great.
There's a nice cameo appearance by John Colicos (Captain DeWitt) as a detective in the film really knowing how to act aggressive and demanding with his role and can be well remembered even if he was in it for about 3 minutes.

There's lots of good classical piano composing with some tragic sounds as well as light soundings for the haunting scene's. Also there's good smooth weeping violin music too as well as the quivering sounds with the odd chanting noises too done by Rick Wilkins