Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Why Don't They Just Move?
Even when viewing the best haunted house movies, the question of "Why don't they just move?" usually comes to mind. Often there are good enough answers, and in the case of Poltergeist the family tried to move, but well the house decided to try and prevent that, so the question is usually a moot point. In the case of The Changeling, a masterful film with a captivating ghost story, the main character, John Russell (played by George C. Scott) refuses to pack up and go despite the fact that his new home is very much haunted. At first he fails to realize this, yet when it becomes painfully obvious he decides to investigate the mystery instead.
Although if he did not this would be a rather short movie, Russell also decides to look into whoever is causing strange and frightening noises in an ancient home he choose to rent while trying to teach and compose music. In a similar vein as such other classic haunted house movies The Haunting (1963) and The Legend of Hell House (1973), this movie is rather creepy and unsettling because it builds up the suspense and does not rely on jump scares or cheap tricks.
One such example is a ball that bounces down the stairs and lands in front of Russell. Knowing exactly who it belongs to, and that its linked to his past, Russell gets rid of the ball, only to later witness the same ball once more rolling down the stairs. This is an eye widening moment simply due to Scott's reaction, and the fact that it underlies that whatever spirit lurks within the house's walls will not be satisfied, nor will it simply go away.
Despite uncovering the answers he seeks, Russell merely runs into more problems, and only realizes too late that his efforts may have been in vain. Expertly crafted, and driven by Scott's widely effective performance, The Changeling is an excellent ghost movie. The fact that it was released at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s is interesting, especially the movie really has the feel of a more Gothic 1960s picture instead.