HomeFilm‘The Changeling’ Blu-ray review

‘The Changeling’ Blu-ray review

Has a ball bouncing down a staircase ever been this scary? Peter Medak’s stylish and influential haunted house chiller ‘The Changeling’ is re-released this week courtesy of Second Sight Films. Available in both limited and standard edition 4K UHD and Blu-ray formats, this cult classic has been given a comprehensive new release, packed with special features. Although this is not a particularly great 4K scan of the film, this is unquestionably the most definitive release we have seen in the UK market.

Combining elements of a ghost story, a murder mystery, and a meditation on grief, ‘The Changeling’ tells the story of John Russell (George C. Scott), a composer who tragically loses his wife and daughter in a car accident. Months later he relocates to Seattle to start a new job as a lecturer. He rents a large, old mansion, hoping to find peace and solitude, and focus on his music. It will come as no surprise to learn that peace and solitude are the last things he finds in that house.

Soon after moving in, John starts experiencing strange and supernatural occurrences within the house. He hears unexplained noises, witnesses objects moving on their own, and encounters spectral figures. Determined to uncover the truth behind these mysterious happenings, John delves into the history of the house and its former occupants. In doing so he uncovers a dark secret, and is soon caught up in a chilling web of deceit, murder, and paranormal activity.

Hungarian born director Medak, orchestrates the film with great style and technique, creating a foreboding atmosphere which never lets up. With his exquisite use of space, the fluid camera movement, precise composition, and emphasis on emotion and psychological horror, you can effectively see him drawing up the template for modern hits such as ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘The Haunting of Hill House’.

The film’s reputation has grown in recent years, thanks to high profile cheerleaders such as Guillermo Del Toro and Martin Scorsese (who named it as one of the scariest movies of all time). One of the great things about this film being rediscovered by old and new audiences alike, is that it has reminded us all of what a great performance George C. Scott gives in the film. The depth of sorrow and anguish he conveys, with such subtlety and nuance, is truly captivating.

The Changeling
Credit: Second Sight Films

Eerie and atmospheric, ‘The Changeling’ isn’t going to have you jumping out of your skin. It’s the kind of film that gets under your skin instead. The kind of film that makes you feel cold all over, and instill you with a deep sense of dread. Bolstered by a haunting score, and exceptional cinematography, ‘The Changeling’ is an engrossing and emotionally resonant chiller, and its recent recognition as a classic of genre is justly deserved.

Before we get to the good stuff that comes with this release, as noted at the top of this review, this isn’t a great restoration of the film. Anyone expecting a crisp and clean scan will be very disappointed. More technical minded critics than myself will be able to speak on this with far greater authority and knowledge, but for a 4K restoration, the image quality in certain sections of the film is surprisingly poor.

You will know by now that when it comes to Second Sight, they always deliver the goods with the special features, and this release is no different. If you are an importer of US discs however, you will be familiar with this material as it has all been ported over from the Severin Films edition. This one has got much cooler artwork though.

The disc kicks off with an audio commentary with Peter Medak and producer Joel B. Michaels. This is followed by a career spanning Interview with Peter Medak from 2018 conducted during the Mórbido Fest in Mexico. There are no clips or cut aways, just Medak and the interviewer for 75 minutes going deep on the main touchstones of his life and career. Surprisingly light on ‘The Changeling’ chat however.

Exile on Curzon Street is a 20-minute programme from 2022, with Medak talking about the early days of his career in 1960s London. Next up is The Haunting on Cheesman Park, which is a short documentary from 2018 covering the haunting true story which inspired the film.

There is an interview with musical arranger Ken Wannberg, who discusses his career and collaborations with John Williams, before moving onto the remarkable work he contributed to ‘The Changeling’. This is followed by an interview with art director Rueben Freed who talks about the level of craft that went into the building of the main house set.

The Psychotronic Tourist is a short programme about visiting the locations from the film, and finally there is an interview with horror director Mick Garris talking about his admiration for ‘The Changeling’. The disc is then rounded off with the trailer and a TV spot.

If you choose to purchase the standard edition that’s your lot. If you instead decide to splash the cash on the limited edition you get a UHD and Blu-ray disc of the film with all the features, plus a CD of the film’s soundtrack. You also get a rigid slipcase with new artwork by Christopher Shy, a 108-page book with new essays by Martyn Conterio, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Rich Johnson, Mikel J Koven, Meagan Navarro, Rachel Reeves, Shelagh Rown-Legg, and Heather Wixson, plus an archive interview with Peter Medak, and 5 collectors’ art cards.

The Changeling
Credit: Second Sight Films

Cast: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas Director: Peter Medak Writer: William Gray & Diana Maddox Released By: Second Sight Films Certificate: 15 Duration: 107 mins Release Date: 5th June 2023

John Parker
John Parker
John is a freelance writer and film reviewer for Entertainment Focus.

Must Read

Has a ball bouncing down a staircase ever been this scary? Peter Medak’s stylish and influential haunted house chiller ‘The Changeling’ is re-released this week courtesy of Second Sight Films. Available in both limited and standard edition 4K UHD and Blu-ray formats, this cult...‘The Changeling’ Blu-ray review