For Day 15, I'm reviewing The Changeling (1980), suggested to me by Tom Hagale.
The Changeling, directed by Peter Medek, falls under the haunted house/ghost story genre of horror films. It opens with a horrific scene as the film's protagonist, John Russell, watches in horror as his wife and daughter get plowed by an oncoming truck. After the title card shows up, we then follow Russell as he moves into a new home, which turns out to be a mansion. Immediately I wondered, why in the world is a grieving widow moving into a mansion? Turns out he got a deal to rent the home as he moved to a new university, where he teaches music. It just doesn't make sense to me, but I get it. They've got a great location piece in this gorgeous home, so why not use it?
That mansion contains a dark past, and Russell experiences supernatural phenomenon, which in turn leads him to investigate the home's history. With a well-written script, George C. Scott delivers a great performance as John Russell. The story drags in a few places with long expositions, but not so much that it pulled me out of the story. With long tracking shots, Medek allows the story to build suspense, and the sense of dread that builds upon not knowing what will happen is part of the fun here.
I really enjoyed The Changeling, and am quite surprised I've not seen this before. I nearly devoured every horror film in the early 80s by going down to the old video store, renting four or five films a weekend. Perhaps the cover art didn't draw me in enough.
I'll definitely give this one another watch, as I expect I will get more out of it on a second viewing. For now, my rating teeters between 5 and 6 bits out of 8, but the nostalgia for the late 70s/early 80s settings pushes it over to a solid 6 bits out of 8. Thanks, Tom, for the recommendation!