The Changeling

The Changeling

TV-MA

appletv

A dreamlike fantasy series whose slow burn horror captures the fears of modern parenting

7.4

TV Show

United States of America
English
Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
2023
Adina Porter, Alexis Louder, Clark Backo

TLDR

To be honest, at first, I thought it wasn’t scary at all. But then as it progressed, and they had happy moments with their baby, all I can think about is why I feel afraid in the moments when the show is at its happiest…

What it's about

Apollo Kagwa fell in love with Emmy Valentine in New York in 2010. They marry and have a baby. However, after the birth, Emmy does something horrific, and she goes missing with her son. Distraught, Apollo goes on a search, journeying into an enchanted world to find them.

The take

With its first episode, The Changeling might feel less scary and more romantic and historical than how a horror fantasy would seem like. The series shifts in and out of flashbacks, sometimes even having a flashback within a flashback, with dreamlike sequences that makes it take a while to figure out when and where the story is taking place. This causes the series to have some unusual pacing that might turn off viewers wanting a quick scare. But there’s a certain mystery to it, a certain anxiety captured as Apollo and Emmy disobey the Brazilian witch, as it recalls those negligent parents in familiar fantastic fairy tales. And as the series makes their flashbacks, there’s a certain fear that Apollo and Emmy might redo the same mistakes their immigrant parents have done before them. It makes for an intriguing take on the novel by Victor LaValle, one that captures a realistic fear that isn’t easy to depict.

What stands out

The pacing and the way the show leans more on genres other than its horror might turn off some viewers from watching The Changeling, but the show remains watchable because of LaKeith Stanfield. Apollo Kagwa’s first sequences are that of a man in love, and the persistent way he asks out Emmy felt so endearing rather than creepy, because of Stanfield’s tender delivery. With his chemistry with Clark Backo, who plays Emmy, their relationship roots the whole series, making it compelling to watch even as the show goes into strange dreams and weird flashbacks.

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