Not to be confused with the Angelina Jolie movie Changeling. George C. Scott is John, a recently widowed music professor now living in a mansion that “doesn’t want people.” After noticing odd occurrences like pipes banging every night at the same time, doors opening, faucets running, and his piano playing all seemingly of their own volition, he and his new friend Claire (Trish Van Devere) set out to solve the mystery. A séance reveals that a wheelchair-bound boy named Joseph was killed by his father in the bathtub. Since Joseph won’t stop moaning and pounding on said bathtub, John and Claire decide to discover what he wants.
The scene when Claire is chased by a haunted wheelchair made #54 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. If the scene sounds less than thrilling, it is. Sure, it’s cobwebby and moving by itself, but it can barely go down stairs.
In my opinion, the scene when Joseph’s body turns up under the floor in a little girl’s bedroom and stares at her is much more effective, as is his creepy plaintive cry of “Father…my medal…” (referring to a St. Christopher’s medal his father takes from him). It’s about what you can expect from director Peter Medak, who did the least scary episode of Masters of Horror, “The Washingtonians.”
On the whole I find the film more depressing than eerie (a sad ghost is far less scary than a vengeful one), but not a bad watch. It’s an interesting psychological study of a practical man becoming a believer in the supernatural. It can be a bit slow, but never boring. The score is also very nice—not early ‘80s cheesy at all.