Scott’s character is a rational man but, as one who operates on the evidence available to him, the film avoids the pitfalls of some other, similar films by not being about what Russell believes, but instead what he will do about it. When The Changeling also takes an interesting, agreeably bold turn midway through, it becomes both ghost story and something else at the same time.
Sharing much of its cinematic DNA with the type of captivating, classy horror Hollywood had been producing at the time, where it deviates from this, it does so in genuinely fascinating ways, not least in the emotionally brutal ending. Although it arguably lacks a real sense of foreboding or genuine danger for Russell, what makes The Changeling work far outweighs any of the film’s relatively minor issues. Blessed with an excellent score, beautifully shot, directed with thought and care, well-paced and with a faultless central cast (headed up by the incomparable Scott), The Changeling is well worth your time.
Second Sight’s standard edition Blu-ray release boasts a great new restored 4K scan of the film which is most often sharp, clear and makes it appear as if it could have been shot yesterday. For extras, we start with a lively feature-length commentary by director Peter Medak and producer Joel B. Michaels moderated by Severin Films’ David Gregory, in which both share plenty of behind-the-scenes information and an enthusiasm for the film and their star Scott that is certainly justified. Featurette The House on Cheesman Park (17:31 mins) explores the ‘true’ story behind the film. The Psychotronic Tourist (16:02 mins) is a modern-day tour of the film’s striking locations, and there’s interviews with music arranger Kenneth Wannberg (8:59 mins), art director Reuben Freed (10:56 mins) and Mick Garris (5:31 mins) on the movie’s history and production, and like the commentary all show huge affection for the film. A trailer and TV spot round things out. A fine package for a very good film.
THE CHANGELING (1980) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PETER MEDAK / SCREENPLAY: WILLIAM GRAY, DIANA MADDOX / STARRING: GEORGE C. SCOTT, TRISH VAN DEVERE, MELVYN DOUGLAS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 29TH