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Late to the Party: The Changeling (1980)

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Wishmaster

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to feel a false sense of comfort about being mid-way through the work week! Also, it’s time for another edition of Late to the Party, the series in which iHorror writers realize we’re horribly behind on some cult classics and fan favorites. As we gradually rectify those genre fandom faux pas, we share our thoughts with you, the reader. This week I took some time to watch a 1980 classic, The Changeling.

I’d been meaning to watch The Changeling for quite some time as it’s a Canadian horror classic. With Canadian Film Day coming up on April 19th, this seemed like an appropriate time to finally check it off my list.

The film follows a composer, John Russell (George C. Scott, Patton), who moves to a gorgeous Victorian mansion in Seattle after the untimely deaths of his wife and daughter. The property is rented from the local historical society and has been vacant for 12 years.

via IMDb

As is usually the case with these scenarios, the house is definitely haunted. John enlists help from historical society agent Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere, The Last Run and – fun fact – wife to actor George C. Scott) to help solve the mystery of what the heck is going on in this dang house.

John holds a séance in his home, secrets are revealed, and the plot thickens.

Playwright Russell Hunter was inspired to write the story of The Changeling after his own haunting experiences at the Henry Treat Rogers mansion in Denver, Colorado in the late 1960s. Though the screenplay was written by William Gray and Diana Maddox, the events follow Hunter’s story very closely – with some dramatic flair and embellishment, of course.

via IMDb

I was thoroughly impressed by The Changeling‘s ability to move through the cavernous and stunning mansion with fluid ease. The cinematography is beautifully done; the camera glides through the house to share its love affair with the antique architecture and support the feeling that we’re a silent – spectral? – observer.

When the camera is still, your eye is drawn directly to what the director wants you to see and it evokes emotion and reaction in a fantastic way. The opening scene where we witness the accident that takes the lives of John’s wife and daughter, for example, connects the audience’s attention to the action in a way that we know exactly what is going to happen before the tragedy hits. We see John make this same connection and I physically cringed in anticipation of the big crash.

There’s another scene where John is playing the piano in his new home (one of many – he’s a composer, after all). A door behind him slowly swings open, but because of how the shot is framed and the direction that the door opens, we can’t see who is behind it until the slow creak reaches its dramatic conclusion. It’s brilliant.

Director Peter Medak and Cinematographer John Coquillon really deserve more praise for this film.

via IMDb

The use of sound in The Changeling is also vitally important. The creaks, bangs, and heavy silences work with the orchestral score in a way that initially conveys a sharp dichotomy, but as the film continues, the soft, comforting classical music gives way to a more obviously jarring score.

The music progresses with the film, making the audience feel – or at least hear – the haunting’s escalation.

via IMDb

I do also have to praise this film for telling John’s story in a way that doesn’t shy away from his personal grief. While John is in the process of moving on from his horrific loss, he’s not okay – and that’s actually great to see.

We know John still has these drifting memories of his family. We see his subtle reactions to his daughter’s favorite toy. We witness this grown-ass man in a vulnerable and emotional state.

That being said, he approaches this new mystery in a completely open way. He’s methodical in his search for answers and doesn’t try to convince himself that he’s just tired or seeing things. John does not try to discredit his own feelings or thoughts, which is so important when dealing with any kind of trauma.

It’s oddly refreshing (from a movie made in 1980).

via IMDb

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the actual horror of it all. There are genuinely scary moments here – the séance scene in particular reminded me a lot of the séance in Insidious. It’s easy to see the influence this film had on others in the genre.

I should also give a shout out to the don’t-call-it-a-flashback scene in which we learn about what tragedy happened to the ghost that haunts the house. It’s tense and very unsettling.

via IMDb

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked The Changeling. You need to expect a difference in pacing with older horror films, absolutely, but the personal elements of the story and characters as well as the stunning composition of the film itself really won me over.

 

Check back with us next week to see what other parties we’ve been late to!

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Evan Peters is Absolutely Chilling in Second ‘Dahmer’ Trailer

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The first trailer for Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story exceeded expectation. The insane detail that is being put into the 10-episode series is absolutely chilling. Plus, Evan Peters is going to a whole new level taking on the role of Dahmer. We are very pleased to announce that the second trailer for the upcoming Netflix series is just as depraved as the first one.

Dahmer
Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer

Ryan Murphy of American Horror Story creation fame is shaping Dahmer up nicely. Plus, its great to see all these amazing actors all really going for it. For example, Richard Jenkins playing Dahmer’s dad is going to be fascinating to explore.

Watch the trailer below:

The synopsis for Dahmer goes like this:

“Dahmer chronicles the story of one of America’s most notorious serial killers (Peters), largely told from the point of view of Dahmer’s victims, and dives deeply into the police incompetence and apathy that allowed the Wisconsin native to go on a multiyear killing spree.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story arrives on Netflix beginning September 21 (Tomorrow).

Take a look at these articles if your interested in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Glenda Cleveland: The Woman Who Tried to Stop Jeffrey Dahmer

Evan Peters ‘Dahmer’ Interview Explains How He Stayed Safe Dealing With Darkness

Netflix’s ‘Dahmer’ Series Starring Evan Peters Receives Chilling First Trailer

Shocking Interview With ‘Dahmer’s’ Niecy Nash Explains How Serial Killer Could Have Been Captured Early On

Before Watching Evan Peters’ Dahmer Series, Check These Out

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‘The Midnight Club’ Trailer is a Perfect Introduction to Netflix’s Upcoming Series

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Midnight

Mike Flanagan constantly destroys me with his work. He is a master of combining monumental substance within the horror genre. His work on both Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Hill House has been insanely great stuff. His next up is an adaptation of Christopher Pike’s, The Midnight Club.

The trailer hits like a ton of bricks featuring a fantastic slowed-down version of The Toadies Possum Kingdom. A fantastic trailer with a great buzz about the trailer.

The synopsis for The Midnight Club goes like this:

At a hospice with a mysterious history, the eight members of the Midnight Club meet each night at midnight to tell sinister stories – and to look for signs of the supernatural from the beyond. A new horror series from Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy’s Intrepid Pictures (The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass), and Leah Fong, based on the creative work of bestselling author Christopher Pike.

Midnight Club stars Iman Benson, Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd, Annarah Cymone, Chris Sumpter, Adia, Aya Furukawa, Sauriyan Sapkota, Matt Biedel, Samantha Sloyan, with Zach Gilford and Heather Langenkamp.

The Midnight Club arrives on Netflix beginning October 7.

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Final Casting Call For Squid Game: The Challenge

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The upcoming reality game show based around the popular Squid Game series is doing one last push for contestants. Do you think you have what it takes to grab the $4.56 million cash prize?

Squid Game: The Challenge will have 456 players that will battle each other in real-life competitions.

The chosen group of contestants will go through a series of games inspired by the original show, plus new additions, which are all intended to test their strategies, alliances, and character as others are eliminated around them.

Be A Contestant in Squid Game: The Challenge

Do you think you have what it takes to be the last one standing in what some are saying is the biggest reality competition ever?  If so, you can apply to be on the reality competition show by visiting SquidGameCasting.com

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