You'll already have figured out I'm not as hardcore as some of the other crazy people that attended Dead by Dawn, I went home at midnight and grabbed a few hours sleep all ready for the early 4:50 start. One good thing is that I've managed to wash and change, I'm sure many others are envying me that choice right now.
This was the smallest audience to date for The Changeling, and yet despite that it was still a great atmosphere, and indeed there were probably more people here than many other mainstream screenings I've been to in the middle of the week.
My friend Dave brought me to Asian horror and once he did that he was onto Argento and then he would try and get me to watch The Changeling, but I never made it. For some reason I kept thinking I had, mixing it up with a film with Charlton Heston doing naughty things with his daughter in some Egyptian setting. Oh yes, The Awakening.
So I was excited to see it on the programme at this Horror festival, and especially on the big screen. After watching the film I was surprised that it is so good. It's an excellent film and a truly creepy one. It managed to out play many modern horrors, and indeed many horrors at this festival.
The story builds slowly and is extremely well paced. It takes the tension up step by step until you are genuinely worrying about what will happen next, before you know it you're absorbed by the main character and this house.
It's interesting that if you look at what happens on paper you'll find that there's nothing wildly different from many other films, but it's the delivery of the plot that makes the film. Without rushing and giving both you and the characters time to absorb what is happening.
There are a lot of well framed shots which are often off kilter or shot from a low angle to give you an uneasy feeling or as though you were looking from the viewpoint of the child spirit. There's also a lot of moving camera shots, and all of this points to styles which are often missed out in modern cinema. You will indeed see some of these styles in non-Hollywood films.
The sets are fantastic and richly detailed, something that you notice throughout the movie and not just in the grand old house. Something that caught me was the work that went into the attic room, and when you first see it you are just so convinced by the authenticity.
Now, onto George C. Scott. He is superbly strong and believe it or not he underplays the role. If you think otherwise I'd guess that you haven't seen many Scott performances, usually he's playing an extremely strong and overbearing character, so it's good to see him in a role with uncertainty and a lack of self belief.
He's a very natural actor and just seems so at ease on the screen, and I couldn't have imagined anyone else playing this role so well. Seeing him walk into the University class for the first time and realising that his small class is almost the entire campus is a great moment to watch.
The ghost is somewhat surprising in itself, since it is clearly not good or evil, but has a clear purpose for which it will use or destroy anyone in its path to achieve. This realisation is perhaps one of the scariest moments of the film.
The ending is strong and very fulfilling, with some tremendous looking fire effects. There's a lot to learn from this film and modern horror and thriller makers should take note.