Even though it does plumb an old genre, The Changeling conducts a fair job of doing so. Instead of a killing every five minutes, director Peter Medak takes his time developing atmosphere. At the outset, his scares at most consist of a door closing of its own apparent accord and a ball bouncing down the stairs. One even begins to think that the film might be too slow and sedate for its own good. However, once Medak comes to the eerie seance, the atmosphere picks up considerably. Some shots like the appearance of the bath chair at the top of the stairs contain a genuine shock.
In the end, perhaps The Changeling is just a little too sedate and old-fashioned for its own good Peter Medak never lets his scares go often enough and mostly the film ends up being carried by the story which is structured with a sense of deepening mystery. George C. Scott is miscast Scott hardly seems the sensitive type who has just suffered from a nervous breakdown, he is more like a bear who wants to open up but is being forced to tone down and play it quiet. Trish Van Devere, George C. Scotts real life wife, hardly makes an impression. On the other hand, Melvyn Douglas gives an extremely good performance of power and authority where one can visibly see an underlying fear starting to creep through.
Hungarian-born director Peter Medak was once seen as a promising director on the basis of the bizarrely surreal comedy The Ruling Class (1972), although nothing else in his career has come anywhere near that. His other genre films include The Hunchback (1997), a tv movie adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame; the dire Species II (1998); and the Anne Rice tv mini-series Feast of All Saints (2001). Medaks non-genre films include the Zorro spoof Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981) and the crime films The Krays (1991) and Romeo is Bleeding (1993). He has directed episodes of numerous tv shows including The Persuaders, Space 1999, The Professionals, Hart to Hart, Return of the Saint, Remington Steele, China Beach, Beauty and the Beast, Tales from the Crypt, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire, Cold Case, Carnivale, House M.D. and Breaking Bad.
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