As I've said before, ghost story horror movies are probably my favorite form of the genre. Ghosts are something that typically, really freak me out. This possibly stems back from when I used to watch Unsolved Mysteries when I was little- and failed to realize that there was such a thing as a "reenactment". Needless to say I was consistently amazed that there was ALWAYS a camera around when spooks were roaming.
That being said, The Changeling is definitely my cup of tea. George C Scott is a composer who loses his wife and daughter in a tragic accident. Although I still maintain they could have jumped over the snow bank and been OK but fine. Georgie moves into a giant house- because nothing says trying to move on like coming home to a big empty house. It's not long before some quite disturbing things begin to happen and George uncovers the truth about the ghost living in the house.
What stood out to me immediately in this film, is that there is this overall sense of emptiness. It's like the environment of the entire house- the way the piano echoes throughout the house but still somehow gets lost in the walls- is all feeding George C Scott's imminent loneliness and heartbreak. I've always been one to get absorbed into music and the music in this movie was so moving. It created such an amazing atmosphere and emotion. But these emotions of heartbreak and despair are rudely and suddenly interrupted by these disturbances. Quite literally in one scene George C Scott is sobbing in his bed- when the loud and terrifying banging interrupts him and he stops at once! Where else can you find symbolism like that? Brilliant I say.
Now, I originally started out watching this movie with the lights in my room turned off. But by the time that frickin ball rolled down the stairs....forget it. Lights on. Who knew a little red ball could be so scary? The movie was full of these kinds of unexpected and oddly unnerving moments. One of the scarier and more beautifully filmed scenes was when George C Scott heard the banging noise for the first time. He starts running towards the noise and the camera keeps catching these glimpses of a figure moving in the mirrors. The figure is unmistakably George C Scott but because of the camera's quick movements you constantly think there is something else moving there with him. I noticed a similar technique when I watched the Innocents and I loved the Innocents. So yeah. Amazing.
There's too many great things about this movie- but perhaps the most unnerving of all is the realization of what that banging noise is recreating. It was really one of those wide eyed holy jeez moments on my part. The whole concept of the child haunting the house and George C Scott mourning a recently deceased child was just so profound to me. Then of course we have the seance scene which was terrifying in it's own right. But nothing really compares to hearing the little boys voice on that tape recorder. It's a moment that sends distinct chills down your spine. The voice isn't some pretentious "ghost" voice. It's not all dead and crackly and it doesn't speak spanish. It's just a kid. But what a kid he is.
If you have not seen this movie, I suggest you find a copy somewhere and watch it as soon as possible. Especially if you are a sucker for the beautiful side of horror. There are so many terrifyingly beautiful moments in this it was truly amazing. There's just specialness oozing out of DVD player.