The Changeling (1980) Peter Medak

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The Changeling (1980)
Directed by Peter Medak
Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Garth H. Drabinsky
Written by Russell Hunter, William Gray, Diana Maddox
Cinematography by John Coquillon
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:47)

Quite possibly the best ghost story you’ve never seen, The Changeling (not to be confused with the 2008 Clint Eastwood film starring Angelina Jolie) will not overpower you with an abundance of special effects, but it’s atmosphere and creepiness instead seep into your pores, causing an uneasiness that you can’t quite shake off. Much of this is due to the wonderful set design of the large Victorian era mansion where composer John Russell (George C. Scott) goes to live in Washington state (actually filmed in Vancouver) after the deaths of his wife and daughter.

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Kill List (2011) Ben Wheatley

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Kill List (2011)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Claire Jones, Andy Starke
Written by Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Cinematography by Laurie Rose
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)

For its first fifteen or so minutes, Kill List looks and feels like a domestic drama. It soon turns into something else, then goes in another direction that catches you totally by surprise – or maybe not, if you’ve been paying close attention. During the final fifteen minutes of the film, nothing short of an earthquake is going to pull you away from the screen.

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Stoker (2013) Park Chan-wook

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Stoker (2013)
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Costigan
Written by Wentworth Miller
Cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung
DVD – library (1:39)

Another recommendation from the guys at Pure Cinema Podcast, Stoker is the first English-language film from South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, whose previous films include the Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and who later made Snowpiercer (2013) and The Handmaiden (2016). If you know Chan-wook’s earlier work, Stoker will seem quite toned-down, but for this particular story, a quieter, more serene atmosphere serves to heighten the tension rather than reduce it.

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