Why remake The Changeling, which is already perfect?

Photo: The Changeling (1980) / Chessman Park Productions.. Image Courtesy Shudder
Photo: The Changeling (1980) / Chessman Park Productions.. Image Courtesy Shudder /

In “What the heck are they THINKING” news, a remake of 1980’s The Changeling has been announced. The George C. Scott chiller has long been touted as one of the best ghost story movies in existence.

Screenwriter Russell Hunter based The Changeling on what he claimed to be real events that happened to him while staying in a mansion at Cheesman Park in Denver. Hunter said he discovered a journal written by a young disabled boy, and that he ended up conducting a séance, during which he was able to contact the spirit of the boy.

The film is set in Seattle, and tells the story of a composer named John, played by George C. Scott. John has recently lost his wife and daughter in a horrible accident, and rents a mansion so he can be alone and grieve. The mansion is rented to him by Claire (played by Scott’s wife Trish Van Devere), who belongs to the local historical society, and the two quickly become friends.

John almost immediately starts to experience some unsettling events, such as hearing loud banging noises every morning, finding the water mysteriously turned on, and seeing the apparition of a young boy drowning in the bathtub. He even finds a hidden room (which is a dream of mine), and a creepy music box.

This movie has everything you could ask for in a ghost story. Besides the hidden room, the music box and the banging noises, there’s an exceptionally chilling moment involving a red rubber ball, the scariest antique wheelchair ever seen, an excellent séance scene and frantic digging for a body. It’s the perfect movie for when you want to be frightened, rather than grossed out.

The Changeling
Photo: The Changeling (1980) / Chessman Park Productions.. Image Courtesy Shudder /

It’s a mystery to me why anyone would feel the need to remake The Changeling, which I have loved since I first saw it in a theater at 17 years old. Yet, Cornerstone Films is planning to do it anyway, with producer Joel B. Michaels and Finnish Director Anders Engstrom at the helm as reported in Deadline.

Michaels produced the original film, and Engstrom has several TV series under his belt, including Hanna, See and Taboo. Michaels plans to shoot the remake in Ireland, and refers to it as the chance to “reimagine”the 1980 masterpiece, with new twists along the way.

There is no logical reason to reimagine a movie that is already revered and appreciated, one would think the recent dismal Black Christmas remake would be proof positive of that. And there is no actor who could possibly improve upon George C. Scott’s heart wrenching performance as John Russell. There is one scene of him lying in bed sobbing with grief, and it was so raw that just thinking about it puts a lump in my throat.

While I hate to dump all over someone’s dream project, I am kind of hoping that this project will fall by the wayside. Recent remakes of both Black Christmas and Fantasy Island were box office failures, so, if nothing else, maybe that will serve as a cautionary tale.

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The Changeling can be seen on a number of streaming platforms, including Shudder, Vudu and Amazon Prime.

Have you seen The Changeling? Do you give the idea of a remake a thumbs up or a thumbs down? Tell us what you think in the comments section.