That house is not fit to live in.
I don't know what it is with the ghost stories this Halloween season, but they're really clicking with me in a way they never really have. Much like how folks feel about The Babadook if they have kids of their own, maybe owning a house and having been alone in with so much space to myself makes these kinds of stories all the more effective. I don't much believe in the afterlife and I've certainly never witnessed anything to encourage me to even entertain the possibility of ghostly activity, but hearing even the slightest of strange noises in the house when I'm by myself will set me on edge every time.
Which brings me to the only criticism of The Changeling. After John Russell's wife and daughter are involved in a deadly accident in upstate New York, he decides to move Seattle where he goes on to buy THE BIGGEST OLD HOUSE ON THE PLANET. Why one person, especially one who is dealing with loss and the ensuing loneliness would move into a place guaranteed to make you feel uncomfortable whenever the floorboards even think of creaking is beyond me.
I'm treating this review pretty lightly so far, but the truth is that I found this movie to be thoroughly chilling. I don't want to spoil too much for those who haven't seen it, but this is a haunted house movie and a first rate one at that. It's best enjoyed with the lights out and either alone or with one other person at the most. I've talked about acting in horror films in previous articles, but it's absolutely top notch here. It needed to be. The cast is very believable, and because of that, when the paranormal elements kick in, those are believable as well. The scene where John discovers the truth about the house he's living in and why it's haunted has to be one of best scenes I've ever seen in a horror film. For lack of a better word, it's haunting and is an image you won't soon shake from your memory. The movie does change gears in the third act, becoming more akin to the last act in a mystery, but the finale firmly reminds you that this is a horror film, and in a movie that's already given so much atmosphere and memorable imagery, manages to leave you with even more.
This is exactly the kind of movie that you should be watching this time of the year.
SCARE RATING: 4/5
OVERALL RATING: 4/5