Whenever I see lists that are like, “The Scariest Movies of All Time,” I’m rarely impressed. These lists often include the classics like The Exorcist or The Shining. And there’s nothing wrong with these movies–they’re great movies. But they’re not scary, not to me. Horror movies, as much as I love them, rarely scare me. However, the 1980 movie The Changeling did, so I greet the news of The Changeling remake with, let’s just say, hesitance?
What is The Changeling?
image via Severin Films/CAV Distributing
First of all, as I mentioned this is the 1980 version, that means it’s not the 2008 Clint Eastwood-directed, Angelina Jolie-starring movie of the same name. Where that movie was a drama, based on real events, the 1980 film is a psychological horror. But the suffocating force of powerful institutions haunts both.
George C. Scott stars as John Russell, a composer who moves to an old house in Seattle after a tragic accident claims his wife and daughter. The home is a Victorian and he rents it from the local historical society with the help of member Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere). It’s a beautiful, if imposing home. It seems as if John might be able to heal there, albeit slowly. And then the strangeness starts.
It soon becomes clear that the noises and other phenomena are not just the usual quirks of an old house. Something is trapped in those walls and it will not rest until it’s heard. So with Claire’s help, John starts looking into the history of the house. It only gets scarier from there.
The Terror of The Changeling
image via Severin Films/CAV Distributing
And the thing is, as with Evil, I can’t really put my finger on what makes it so shit-disturbing. Or what it does differently from the other movies that I appreciate, but that ultimately make me do the Kris Jenner “hmmh” at the end. All I knew is that I did not care to watch it again after I saw it the first time. The thought of it filled me with a low-level panic.
But finally I broke down and agreed to sit through it with someone who hadn’t seen it. Like a protective gesture, I immediately fell asleep five minutes into the movie. And that’s where I stayed, until I woke up on the couch the next morning. The TV was still on and the news was reporting that George C. Scott had died.
Sometimes the synchronicity of the universe is amusing. And other times, it’s eerie beyond belief.
And Now You’re Telling Me There’s Gonna Be a Changeling Remake
Although it’s unclear whether there’s a script yet for this updated version, there is a director: Anders Engström. Engström hasn’t done much film work, but he’s worked extensively in TV. For instance, he’s directed episodes of a bunch of Finnish shows you have never heard of–NO, YOU HAVE NOT. Yeah, I’m sure you were a huge fan of Småstadberättelser.
In addition, he’s also directed episodes of shows like Wallander, Taboo, and Hanna. So he’s no newcomer, which I guess is okay. Anyway, they’re going to film the movie in Ireland, so look forward to some British actor pretending to be an American there, probably.
John B. Williams, who produced the original film, is also producing this one. He said in a statement, “I am overjoyed at having the unique opportunity to reimagine an updated version of the iconic film The Changeling that I produced so many years ago. It’s flattering to know that it proved to have inspired a rash of filmmakers that paid homage to the original film. I am excited to be working with Anders Engström who will bring his own contemporary vision to the film.”
Yaaaaay, I say unconvincingly. But I hope to be proven wrong!
What do you think of a remake of The Changeling? Let us know here or on social media or through automatic writing at a seance, whatever.
(And if you’d like to know more about the real crimes that inspired the 2008 Changeling, The Crime Museum has a decent write-up. Please note, though, that it contains details regarding violence, including sexual abuse, against children.)
featured image via Severin Films/CAV Distributing
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.