Directed by Peter Medak
I’ve read that this is one of the better horror movies of the 1980’s so I figured that I should give it a watch. (I seem to be in a horror film mood lately… I wonder why that is.) “The Changeling” has a lot in common with the horror films that were in vogue around the time it was made (i.e. slower, more psychological fare like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Shining”). That seems to be a habit with horror movies (and one could easily argue, films of any genre in general) that many films are very similar to others made around the same time. If the 70’s was the decade for slow boiling horror films (in which I am including “The Changeling” because it was made early on in 1980) then the 80’s was the slasher film decade (with films like “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”) the 90’s was the self-reflexive decade (“Scream”) and the 2000’s was the torture porn decade (“Saw”). Looking at how the genre has “progressed” it makes me pine for the 1970’s. (Though a few of the films made in the 90’s were pretty damn good.) Regardless, “The Changeling” is far from a great example of psychological horror done right.
The problem with “The Changeling” is that it’s trying far too hard to be methodical. It knows what “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Shining” did right, and it just does more of the same, but with far less effect. It’s also way too overly complicated for its own good. The story tries to touch upon as many things as it possibly can and by doing so, spreads itself thin and never really has anything important to say about one thing in particular. There are a few frightening moments spread out along its nearly two-hour running time, but they are too far apart to really add up to anything and redeem the film for its shortcomings. The ending is also one moment after another of increasingly implausible and unexplainable events, leaving the audience with nothing to think about at the end, save for how hard the movie tries to be important, only to fall sadly short.