Movie Review: The Changeover

The Changeover is an amazing book. What it is not is the film that is apparently ‘based’ on it. I put myself through the pain of watching it so that other fans of Margaret Mahy’s masterpiece don’t have to…

WHAT were they thinking?

Even ten years ago I was still waiting for someone to find the treasure that is Margaret Mahy’s The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance and make a film of it. About three years ago a friend of mine got in touch and said that she’d heard from somewhere that it was actually (finally) happening and someone was making a film.

Anxious to find out more I set about searching for anything about it. I discovered that Timothy Spall was involved (in my head he would be the ideal Carmody Braque) then nothing. In late 2017 I found a site that had the trailer, information about the film and a lot of other stuff.

Now, if you’ve read the book you will struggle to recognise much about the film from the description that they’ve used. Apart from the characters’ names, it sounds almost as though they’re talking about another story entirely.

Laura loses her little brother in earthquake-scarred Christchurch. A decrepit old man marks the child’s hand with a noxious stamp. Jacko sickens quickly while the man grows younger. The doctors insist Jacko needs a bone marrow transplant — and Laura is the only donor. But Laura becomes convinced a mysterious older boy can help her “change over” and become a witch, defeating the evil spirit sucking the life out of her brother.

Earthquake? Bone marrow transplant? Did I miss something in my 50+ reads of the book? I started to think so. Then I saw the trailer and my heart shrivelled!


I started to do a bit more searching but found very little about it, no release date for the UK, nothing. So I just forgot I’d seen the above trailer and went along my merry way, still wishing there had been a sequel to the book.

This morning (UK) I saw that The Changeover was available on Netflix in the UK. If it had a release in UK cinemas then I didn’t hear about it (or it was limited and didn’t make it to my small town on the South Coast)

The reviews in the US are raving about how incredible the film is, calling it a thriller or a horror film. Did I miss something? The Changeover is a ROMANCE with a supernatural bent. It was written in the 1980s as a novel for teenagers (when things were more innocent) and without all the tripe that they added to the film it had the potential to be great (the book really is).

I am struggling to forget, already, that I put myself through such sufferance and despair that so many people will expect the book to reflect the crap that the movie became.

My honest recommendation would be this:

Skip the film! Read the book, enjoy it, search for like-minded people and forget that they decided an amazing book wasn’t good enough to make a film that people could take time out of their lives to relish.

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