The Changeling (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Changeling1980

The Changeling (1980)




Critic Consensus: George C. Scott's somber performance gives this haunted house horror a moving soul to go along with its harrowing scares.

The Changeling Photos

Movie Info

Peter Medak's The Changeling is among a handful of films, including The Haunting (1963), Ghost Story (1981), and Lady in White (1988), that have successfully recreated the intimate, drawing-room atmosphere of supernatural horror fiction. After his wife and daughter are killed in a snowbound car accident, classical composer John Russell (George C. Scott) relocates from New York to Seattle to teach at his alma mater. Looking for a quiet place to rest and continue writing music, he is referred Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere) at the Seattle Historical Preservation Society. Claire shows John a large, sparsely furnished estate in the outlying countryside. He takes the house, appreciating its remoteness and the solitude it might afford, and diverts himself by renovating and settling in. He even starts to compose, putting aside his older work in favor of a new, sentimental piece for the piano. It is not long, however, before he begins having nightmares about the accident that killed his wife and daughter. Possibly because of this trauma, he is open to communications from the house's ghostly occupants. Pursuing a loud, repetitive pounding noise in an upper room, he stumbles on the apparition of a young boy drowning in a tub. Working together with Claire, John discovers frightening parallels between this vision and buried events from the house's past. Horror writer M.R. James once said that his goal as a writer was to make the reader feel "pleasantly uncomfortable." Those looking for a similar experience in movies will appreciate The Changeling as a gem in the horror genre.

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George C. Scott
as John Russell
Trish Van Devere
as Claire Norman
Melvyn Douglas
as Sen. Joe Carmichael
Jean Marsh
as Joanna Russell
Barry Morse
as Dr. Pemberton
J.B. Douglas
as Eugene Carmichael
James Douglas
as Eugene Carmichael
Madeleine Sherwood
as Mrs. Norman
Roberta Maxwell
as Eva Lingstrom
Bernard Behrens
as Prof. Robert Lingstrom
Frances Hyland
as Elizabeth Grey
Ruth Springford
as Minnie Huxley
Helen Burns
as Leah Harmon
Eric Christmas
as Albert Harmon
J. Kenneth Campbell
as Security Guard
Janne Mortil
as Linda Grey
Terence Kelly
as Sergeant Durton
Anna Hagan
as Secretary
Antonia Rey
as Estancia
Sammy Smith
as Doorman
Paul Rothery
as Terry Grey
Hagan Beggs
as Coroner
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Critic Reviews for The Changeling

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (3)

The Changeling is a superior haunted house thriller.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

The leaps made by Scott's agile mind in identifying both victim and usurper leave logic and credence on the starting block.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

If it only took craftsmanship to make a haunted house movie, The Changeling would be a great one.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Like many a fine film, its stature only grows over the years.

January 24, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Scott, with all his gristle and growl, carries Medak's ambiance-driven with his usual swagger, and real-life wife Trish Van Devere plays a member of the historical society with keys to the mansion's past.

May 29, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Peter Medak's modern yet old-fashioned gothic places a decent, damaged man between dynastic conspiracy and supernatural vendetta.

July 20, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Changeling


An engaging ghost story that deserves more credit for its twisty plot, uncomfortable atmosphere and Medak's refined direction than for being actually scary (even though it does have its creepy moments), and it boasts a very fine performance by George C. Scott.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The actual haunting of the house, where John Russell (Scott) resides, is handled with craftsmanship and delicacy by director Peter Medak. The tell-tale gothic mansion, the deep bass thuds in the house's walls like a giant's knocks, and the quiet whispering of a child's voice, make this a very ably made haunted house story. While the story behind the haunting, and the search for the truth behind it, make for a really interesting mystery, it's such a strange assemblage of scenes. In the first part of the film we see Russell widowed and he begins teaching composition at a university. When he begins to be haunted, he realizes it almost immediately, goes searching for the truth, and finds it. Russell is never frightened by the ghost, only inquisitive about its origins. He doesn't mind picking up human bones, threatening people, and talking to the ghost in question. Even big old George C. Scott must get scared sometimes, but in this film he's fully self-possessed and seems unable to approach fear. The connection between him and his dead daughter is severed once we indulge in finding out the truth about the ghost, which makes me wonder why he's widowed at all. While the film itself was intricate and complex in the best of ways, there really wasn't anything frightening about it, which is a shame when watching a film about a ghost story.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

three stars!!!

MisterYoda ?
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

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