It was the perfect family vacation for composer John Russell and his family when a freak automobile accident claims the lives of his wife and daughter. Consumed by grief, John, at the request of friends, rents an old turn of the century house. Mammoth in size, the house seems all the room that John needs to write music and reflect. He does not realize that he is not alone in the house. He shares it with the spirit of a child who has homed in on John's despair and uses him to uncover decades of silence and deceit. With the help of Claire Norman, the one who aided John in procuring the house, they race to find the answers and soon learn that a devious and very powerful man guards them.Written by
The name of the history group was the Seattle Historical Preservation Society. The name of the campus where Dr. John Russell (George C. Scott) taught music was the University of Seattle (though the interiors were filmed at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada). See more »
(at around 35 mins) When John Russell first examines the notebook in the attic room, the sticker on the cover says: "C.S.B., January 1909". When he brings Claire Norman to the attic room (at around 38 mins), she picks up the notebook and reads "C.S.B., January FOURTH 1909" off the cover. See more »
[to Senator Carmichael]
You're the beneficiary of the cruelest kind of murder... murder for profit!
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A man, recovering from the recent deaths of his wife and child in an automobile accident in New York state, moves across the country to Washington. There he tries to move on with his life as a musical composer by moving into a large Victorian style house in the country. Strange things begin to happen, however, water taps turned on, a window smashing on its own, his daughter's rubber ball inexplicably bouncing down a towering staircase and, above all, thunderous bangs periodically echoing throughout the house for no apparent reason.
The man realizes that something is trying to communicate with him in this house, and he begins an investigation of the building's history. And there's something, something going on in that tiny dusty cob web strewn room at the very top of the house, the one with a music box and a small wheelchair.
George C. Scott is a solid presence in this film as the man bewildered by this huge old home, with Scott's wife, the elegant Trish Van Devere, cast as a member of the local historical society instrumental in having secured him this house. Melvyn Douglas appears as a U.S. senator who is somehow related to the house.
Director Peter Medak lets the suspense build slowly in this intelligent Canadian made ghost story. Rather than going for terror, this film goes for subtle chills. There's a seance scene that is genuinely eerie, as Medak's camera returns to that small room and then starts to glide down the stairs towards the seance participants trying to communicate with the spirit.
Some ghost films are all special effects and over-the-top performances of terror. Like the best of the classy, more mature films that explore the supernatural, The Changeling never goes for cheap thrills. This thriller's eeriness is analogous to a tap on the shoulder by a cold finger, only to turn around and find there is nobody there.
It may be a cliché to say it, but, in this case, it's true: if you watch this film, be sure to do so with the lights turned low.
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