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The Changeling (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Peter Medak’s The Changeling (1980) is one of the better entries in the supernatural-haunted house subgenre of horror films. Coming the same year as

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Medak’s film feels much more intimate and gothic in comparison, drawing more from the likes of The Exorcist (1973) and The Innocents (1961).

After his wife and daughter are killed in a car accident on a snowy road, classical composer John Russell (George C. Scott) relocates from New York City to Seattle to take a teaching job at his alma mater. He takes up residence in an old, remote mansion he leases from the local historical society.

John begins to renovate the house and begins working at the piano again, composing an emotional new piano-based work, in place of his older work. Soon after moving in, John begins having vivid nightmares of the accident that killed his wife and daughter. He begins to believe he is being contacted by spirits occupying the eerie house, which has a strange history that was withheld from him before moving in. After he witnesses the apparition of a young boy in the attic being drowned in a tub, he begins to investigate the strange history of his haunted house.

Medak does a fantastic job with the well-worn genre of the haunted house, infusing much atmosphere and real scares into the screenplay from Russell Hunter, William Gray, and Diana Maddox. The visual aesthetic is shadowy, atmospheric, and chilling, avoiding much of the grandiosity of other films in the genre while also avoiding tilting too far toward B-movie territory. This film is pure class, despite dropping part of the storyline concerning John Russell’s recovery from grief for a straighter horror/supernatural story arc.

Still, The Changeling manages to hold up well versus other films from its era and should be on the lists of everyone’s ‘scary season’ movie marathons. It won the Best Motion Picture award at the 1980 Genie awards and also a Best Rediscoveries award at the 2018 Boston Film Critics Society Award.

  • George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere in The Changeling (1980)
  • George C. Scott and Jean Marsh in The Changeling (1980)
  • The Changeling 4K Ultra HD (Limited Edition (Second Sight)
  • The Changeling 4K Ultra HD (Limited Edition (Second Sight)

The Video

Second Sight presents The Changeling on 4K from a “new 4K scan and restoration presented in HDR.” Encoded in HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) HDR10 framed at 1.85:1 with a MaxLL of 1000 nits and MaxFALL of 400 nits.

This looks to be from the same 4K restoration which was used on the U.S. 4K Ultra HD release from Severin, but Second Sight’s transfer has a more natural color palette while the Severin 4K release was a bit oversaturated and showed a hint of red push in the flesh tones. This Second Sight release also has a much higher bitrate, averaging ~88Mbps where the Severin release averages ~62Mbps. It is a very grainy film with a coarse thicket of grain over the image in many scenes, however that grain looks natural, not noisy and there is good detail in the image. Source damage is not an issue. There are some very minor, mostly translucent scratches that can be seen in places, but this is to be expected in a film and they do not take away from the overall impact of the image.

I would say that Second Sight has the superior release from a video quality perspective over the Severin release, even though it is close. It is certainly much closer that the obvious superiority of the Second Sight 4K release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre over the U.S. release from Dark Sky Films.

The Audio

Stereo and 5.1 audio mixes for The Changeling are provided in DTS-HD Master Audio. The sound is atmospheric and dynamic presenting some of the subtlest sounds and the piano-based score with equal aptitude.

The Supplements

Second Sight’s Limited Edition release of The Changeling comes packed with bonus features and collectible content. For anyone looking to import to the U.S., however, the on-disc bonus features (including the CD soundtrack) are all available in the 4K release from Severin. Where this ups the ante is in the added collectible swag like the 108-page book, the art cards, and rigid slipcase.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Christopher Shy
  • 108-page book with new essays by ​​Martyn Conterio, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Rich Johnson, Mikel J Koven, Meagan Navarro, Rachel Reeves, Shelagh Rowan-Legg and Heather Wixson plus archive interview with Peter Medak
  • Original Soundtrack CD
  • Five collectors’ art cards 

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Peter Medak and Producer Joel B. Michaels
  • Interview with Peter Medak by Filmmaker Adriàn García Bogliano at Mórbido Fest 2018 (1080p; 01:14:01)
  • Exile on Curzon St. (1080p; 00:19:46) – Peter Medak on his early years in Swinging London
  • The House on Cheeseman Park (1080p; 00:17:30) – The haunting true story of The Changeling
  • The Music of The Changeling (1080p; 00:08:58) – An interview with music arranger Kenneth Wannberg
  • Building the House of Horror (1080p; 00:10:53) – An interview with art director Reuben Freed
  • The Psychotronic Tourist (1080p; 00:16:06)
  • Master of Horror Mick Garris on The Changeling (1080p; 00:05:30)
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:02:17)
  • TV Spot (1080p; 00:00:28)

The Final Assessment

Second Sight has again entered with a superior release on 4K of a classic, challenging other distributors to up their game. For collectors and videophiles, the higher bitrate and added collectible content will be two reasons to get this release even if the previous 4K release is already owned.


The Changeling (Limited Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD in the UK, June 5, 2023, from Second Sight Films.


  • Rating Certificate: UK: 15
  • Studios & Distributors: Chessman Park Productions | Associated Film Distribution (AFD) | Second Sight Films
  • Director: Peter Medak
  • Written By: Russell Hunter | William Gray | Diana Maddox
  • Run Time: 115 Mins.
  • Street Date: 5 June 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 1000 nits
    • MaxFALL: 400 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes Peter Medak's The Changeling (1980) is one of the better entries in the supernatural-haunted house subgenre of horror films. Coming the same year as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Medak’s film feels much more intimate and gothic in comparison, drawing more...The Changeling (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)