The Changeling is an unsettling horror fantasy series with a standout performance from LaKeith Stanfield. Unfortunately, as the series delves into the more fantastical elements it has to offer, the cracks start to show.
Here is our review of the Apple TV+ series The Changeling Season 1, which does not contain significant spoilers.
No one can truly prepare you for becoming a first-time parent. It is one of those life-changing events that you can research and train for all you want, but you won’t actually know how it feels or how you will react until you are thrown in at the deep end, taking home that newborn baby from the hospital for the very first time.
Apple TV+ horror series The Changeling takes our fears around raising a newborn and our primal need to protect this precious offspring, formulating a sinister fairy-tale fantasy narrative out of this essential, most relatable of topics, with varying results.
The Changeling Season 1 Review and Plot Summary
Kelly Marcel’s adaptation of Victor LaValle’s bestselling 2017 horror fantasy novel begins with a charming meet-cute between librarian Emma Valentine (Clark Backo) and bookdealer Apollo Kagwa (LaKeith Stanfield).
Apollo is enchanted by Emma, and he persistently asks her out on a first date until she relents. It’s love at first sight, but Emma has bigger plans. She’s off backpacking around Brazil the following week. During Emma’s trip, she encounters a mysterious woman sitting by a haunted lagoon.
The woman grants Emma three wishes, which will all come true if she wears a red string necklace until it naturally falls off her wrist. Apollo abruptly cuts the string free, though, breaking the witch’s spell. But Emma’s wishes start to come true regardless. The couple marry and are soon a family, caring for their first child together.
These opening episodes are shot in a fairy-tale, dreamlike state, yet the characters still feel real and grounded, while their worries are extremely relatable. The parents constantly worry about their child’s safety, concerned about screen time, the baby’s diet, and sleeping habits (or lack thereof).
Over these first few installments, the filmmakers expertly craft a foreboding sense of dread, slowly feeding into the show’s horror elements. And as you’d expect, this troubling fable can be a tough watch at times, eschewing the typical format entirely. The family is about to go to hell and back in the pursuit of accomplishing their dreams.
Is The Changeling Season 1 good or bad?
The Changeling is a dark and twisted horror fantasy series from Apple that delves into some pretty unsettling and disturbing subject matter. Just like the streaming services’ other genre hit Servant, this isn’t for the faint of heart.
Led by a captivating performance from LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out), the series taps into our greatest fears about parenthood, which is easy to connect with on a personal level. We follow Apollo through this daunting odyssey as he searches for answers.
It’s relatable and engaging, although some of the more fantastical elements are harder to invest in.
The series wavers when it focuses on the more far-fetched fantastical sections, opening up the story to more outlandish characters and worlds.
Here, The Changeling can’t help but succumb to many of the standard TV tropes that come with the genre, which is unfortunate considering the show’s promising setup.
Is The Changeling Season 1 worth watching?
Overall, The Changeling is worth checking out, though it tackles tricky themes with a maturity and confidence that feels cinematic in scope. LaKeith Stanfield is phenomenal in the lead role, and the horror elements can be compelling throughout.
I wish that the fantasy aspect of this storyline felt more believable and immersive on the whole.
What did you think of the Apple TV+ series The Changeling Season 1, and how would you review it? Comment below.