The cries of a baby and the slow but caring response of the child’s weary mother kick off a sense of dread in Scottish writer/director Faye Jackson’s U.K. short horror film Changeling. That sense builds ever more relentlessly during the film’s 10-minute running time, leading to a gut-wrenching climax featuring a novel approach to the European folklore involving the titular entity — a fairy that swaps places with a child.
Lara Belmont stars as Jan, a young mother who is obviously fatigued from the demands of her baby. Starting with the ominous, fatal crashing of a bird into the side of her baby’s stroller, Jan experiences a series of weird events that result in a horrific, life-altering ordeal.
Jackson paces Changeling masterfully, working from her screenplay that uses dialogue sparingly. She has crafted her film with odd, unsettling images that unfold slowly and that linger long after the short ends. The special effects look superb — be prepared for plenty of oozing and dampness — and the sound design is a perfect, eerie complement to the proceedings. Ann Evelin Lawford’s cinematography is splendid. Belmont carries the film’s emotional weight with her expressions of weariness and fear, turning in a fine performance.
Employing body horror, supernatural terror, and postpartum depression, Changeling is a superb short chiller full of vivid imagery. It is weighty with eldritch atmosphere, and packs both emotional and artistic punches.(4 / 5)
Changeling is nominated for Best Horror Short at FilmQuest 2020, which takes place online and at The Velour in Provo, Utah, from May 21–29, 2021. For more information, visit http://www.filmquestfest.com.
Changeling is also available from Alter at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07iUwUle_as.