I had a recurring dream as a kid, well, more of a nightmare. It featured a long, dark staircase leading up to a dark, closed door. An attic door of some sort. Somehow, I always stopped myself before opening the door, knowing whatever was behind it was more than I could handle. It seems The Changeling knows about my nightmare, because its tagline is: Whatever you do, don’t go into the attic. Of course, I had to watch this movie to finally find out what might have been behind that dark attic door.
George C. Scott is John Russell, a man whose wife and daughter are killed by an out-of-control truck on a snowy November day in New York. Months later, John tries to move on with his life by taking on a teaching position in Seattle (he is a composer/pianist). He decides to rent an enormous old stone mansion nearby from Claire, a volunteer with the town’s Historic Preservation Society.
Soon, Russell begins hearing loud thumping noises at 6 am, followed by the discovery of faucets running and tubs full. Minnie, an old biddie at the Society, tells him, “That house is not fit to live in. No one has been able to live in it. It doesn’t want people.”
Well, Russell is not deterred, so he starts searching the house for clues. He soon discovers a concealed door leading up to an attic room, where he finds a music box which plays the exact same tune he thought he had just composed himself, an old-fashioned child’s wheelchair, and a book with the year 1906 on the front. He and Claire begin to investigate the home’s history, but files have mysteriously gone missing. They do, however, discover that a doctor lived there at the turn of the century with his daughter Cora and son Joseph, and that Cora was killed by a coal car as a child.
Russell invites a medium to the house for a seance, and soon learns the pounding noises and ghostly happenings lead back to the child Joseph, who asks for Russell’s help. Meanwhile, a Senator Joseph Carmichael, who is on the Society’s Board of Directors, begins to fit into the puzzle, as do his father, an abandoned well, a necklace with a medal, and a police detective. And all lead back to the attic room, and the young boy’s haunting cries of “Father, father…”
- Top Scare: Mirrors
- Heartbeats: 3 1/2 out of 5
- Gore factor: 1 out of 5
- Suspense Factor: 4 out of 5
- Recommended for: 15 and up