A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
If it only took craftsmanship to make a haunted house movie, "The Changeling" would be a great one. It has all the technical requirements, beginning with the haunted house itself. It's a vast Gothic pile somewhere near Seattle, with staircases winding up into the gloom and a hidden door to an attic room where a child's tiny wheelchair moves by itself.
George C. Scott plays the man who moves into the house. He's a composer who recently lost his wife and child in an auto accident, and he's come to Seattle to forget the past. He rents the big old house because it has a large music room. But the house turns out to be a little too well furnished: It has a piano that plays itself, doors that open when nobody's there, and a habit of waking him up with loud thuds.
Scott begins to suspect something is wrong (you do not have to be a quick study when you live in this house). He consults the local historical society, and is informed by the society's staff crone that people were not meant to live in that house. More stuff happens. An old music box in the attic room plays a song Scott composed only that morning. There's a nightmare vision of a child being drowned. The house ghost identifies itself at a seance.
All of these developments are handled with a great deal of skill by director Peter Medak, an interesting filmmaker whose credits include the insanely eccentric "The Ruling Class." Medak is a little too fond of wide-angle shots (his choice of lenses makes all the rooms look wraparound), but he takes a good, basic approach to the haunting phenomena. This is a scare movie with taste.