The Night Flier/Changeling (2003) Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
“The Changeling” is one eerie cinematic experience. John Russell (George C. Scott) watched helplessly as his pretty wife and young daughter perished in a horrible automobile accident. Overcome with crushing grief, Russell gives up his career as a composer in New York to head across the country to the state of Washington. His talents as a musician allow him to obtain a post at a local university, but he needs to find some new digs so he can maintain his privacy. A suggestion from friends leads him to the local historical society where Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere) recommends he rent out Chessman House, a local landmark currently unoccupied. Why the historical society is in the real estate business is an unanswerable question, but Russell agrees to move into the decrepit but beautiful house anyway. To say something is wrong with this old building ranks as one of the great understatements in cinematic history. A ghost haunts Chessman House; a very angry spirit whose sole purpose in life (no pun intended—in fact, a double pun!) is convincing Russell to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding its demise. At first, Russell isn’t convinced that anything is wrong. Sure, he hears some weird booming noises in the middle of the night, and his piano occasionally bangs out an odd note or two when no one is around, but these oddities do convince the musician to launch an investigation into the house’s history.
Things start to get weirder once we learn the history of Chessman House. According to local rumors and documents, a family living in the house back in the early twentieth century lost a daughter in a coal truck accident. Subsequent horrors convince our protagonist that the spirit inhabiting the building has nothing to do with this incident. For example, Russell witnesses the apparition of a young boy in a bathtub upstairs, and the voices he starts hearing don’t sound like that of a young girl. In the film’s best scene, a plastic ball bounces down the house’s stairs and comes to rest right in front of Russell. The composer takes the toy and throws it in a nearby creek only to come home to discover the ball bouncing down the stairs again! Chilly! The truth becomes clearer in another ultra eerie scene when a psychic visits the house and channels a message from Joseph, a boy who lived in the house before the family with the girl ever arrived. It is the revenant of this young child communicating with John Russell, and the composer henceforth methodically unearths the mystery behind the ghost in Chessman House. No spoilers here, but ultimately a powerful senator, an abandoned well, and a small room in the attic provide the necessary clues in solving the mystery.
In “The Night Flier,” some nut in a pitch black Cessna is flying around the country and landing at out of the way airports in order kill the personnel on duty. All of these grisly incidents occur in the middle of the night, not in and of itself strange, but the actual killings raise a host of intriguing questions screaming for someone to investigate. No one makes a connection that these crimes might be linked until a trash tabloid paper called “Inside View” gets a whiff of the story. The star reporter for this rag, Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer), eventually expresses an interest in the killings when the facts become too weird to ignore. This journalist (a term used loosely) boards his own small plane and begins to follow the crimes up and down the East Coast. Dees faces a host of problems during his investigation, including the reluctance of witnesses to speak about what they know. Bigger difficulties emerge in the form of Merton Morrison (Dan Monahan), the sleazy editor of “Inside View,” and a hungry new reporter looking for her first big break named Katherine Blair (Julie Entwisle). Dees isn’t too worried about these problems since he understands completely the ins and outs of tabloid journalism, and knows from years of experience how to hold his own against rivals and unenthusiastic witnesses.
Dees’s excursions slowly uncover a series of sinister clues to the identity of the unknown pilot. The enigmatic aviator’s name is Dwight Renfield, and the guy only flies at night. He also seems to possess a weird ability to control the minds of some of his victims, victims left lying in county morgues with holes in their necks that you could drive a tractor through. Dees knows he’s on to something huge, a story that could put him back on page one of “Inside View.” As the reporter homes in on his quarry, he learns Renfield knows about him and what he’s trying to do. Ominous incidents start occurring, messages left in blood in Dees’s hotel room warning the reporter to cease and desist, stalking, things like that. Richard isn’t the sort of guy that scares easily, however, so he takes these warnings as signs that he’s about to break the story. Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Dees reticence to reveal the juicy details of the case to Morrison leads the editor to assign eager beaver Blair to the story. The boss chuckles over imagining the hostility that will inevitably occur when Dees learns he’s been steamrolled. Better Dees should worry about what will happen when he finally confronts Dwight Renfield than what Blair or Morrison are planning.
What a catch! Two great horror films that will leave you scuttling for the light switch! You can’t go wrong with either of these great movies. Although it looks as though this particular deal is currently out of print, there’s no reason to think that the offer won’t return in the future. If it does, you really ought to take advantage of such a stellar package. These two films have it all: heavy gore, great acting, good special effects, and scares aplenty. Enjoy!
About The Night Flier/Changeling (2003)
Starring: Miguel Ferrer, Julie Entwisle, George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Dan Monahan
Runtime: 127 minutes
Director: Mark Pavia Peter Medak