Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Changeling: Even George C Scott Gets Scared Sometimes.

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. 

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Matt said...

I discovered this movie this year after a friend told me that it was one of the scariest films she had ever seen. And it really is. It's one of the best ghost stories ever made.

George C. Scott's acting is fantastic and the film really is scary in that unnerving way. While the ball rolling down the stairs is the most iconic image from this film, the part that really gets me is the wheelchair at the top of the stairs. Brilliant.

Andre said...

Yess Actually that part really got me as well. I was going to go back and write something about but I decided it would be a nice surprise for first time viewers.

B-Sol said...

This one has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I actually reviewed it in the Vault a while back. Absolutely terrifying, and either this or The Haunting is the greatest haunted house movie of all time, in my opinion. The image of the boy in the bathtub is something that has always stayed with me.

Andre Dumas said...

The Haunting is next on my queue. I am extremely excited!

William Malmborg said...

This certainly is one of the greats when it comes to the genera and one that I will always suggest when people want a recommendation on a good scary haunted house movie (the original The Haunting is another one). I remember when I was little my Mom would always talk about the scene with the ball coming down the stairs to the point where I hadn’t even seen the movie yet, but the scene freaked me out, and then when I finally did see it, the scene still sent a cold chill through my bowels. Also the scene where the girl sees the kid in her floor, oh my, I never wanted to look over the edge of my bed after that.

NOTE: I too was fooled by the ‘reenactments’ of scenes, though mine was with Rescue 911.

Andre said...

Ooh Rescue 911 as well always fooled me! Those bastards.

Marissafarrar said...

This has been my favourite horror movie for years! It made me laugh out loud when the red ball was mentioned - it gives me chills even now. It shows you don't need blood and guts for a movie to be scary. This is a perfect example of how atmosphere can make a horror film.