The Changeover

Out Now On-Demand

Erana James stars alongside Timothy Spall and Kiwis Melanie Lynskey and Lucy Lawless in this adaptation of Margaret Mahy's namesake novel.

Set in post-earthquake Christchurch, The Changeover tells the story of troubled teenage Laura Chant (James) who must 'change over' and become a witch in order to save her little brother Jacko (Benji Purchase) from an evil ancient spirit (Spall).


Directed by

Written by

  • Stuart McKenzie
  • (based on the novel 'The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance' by Margaret Mahy)

Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Romance


Rating: M Supernatural themes & content that may disturb

UK, New Zealand

One of the reasons Kiwi author Margaret Mahy’s works are so beloved is the believable characters she establishes, with young adults in particular convincingly brought to life on the page. Mahy’s fully formed protagonists frequently grapple with the increased responsibilities of adulthood, and that’s true of this big screen adaptation of her 1984 novel — not that supernatural evil is something teens generally have to deal with. Her source material's characters provide a solid foundation for uniformly confident performances here that, alongside the film’s directorial decisionmaking, assist in making its very familiar plot elements more watchable than one might expect in a post-Buffy/Twilight landscape.

There’s plenty here that we’ve seen before: a curse; possession; disbelieving adults; acceptance of powers as coming-of-age metaphor; a hunky, wooden, potential love interest. The Changeover is committed to rendering them as believable as possible, though, with top-drawer acting talent deployed - particularly a malevolent Timothy Spall, solo mum Melanie Lynskey, and a performance of surprising authority from lead Erana James. The cast plays things straight, despite the genre elements, aiming for dramatic punch rather than hamming it up and that’s an approach mirrored by the distinctive direction and cinematography.

Unlike other mainstream supernatural efforts one could name from both Aotearoa and further afield, The Changeover doesn’t set out to either replicate the feel of previous box office successes on the cheap or inadvertently slide into kidult TV territory. Instead, it successfully establishes a mood of its own, employing the backdrop of post-earthquake Christchurch to effect without overdoing it, and constantly making interesting visual choices. Don’t get me wrong, this is no art-house flick, instead, it’s a solid film that stands on its own two feet. But, like me, contemporary audiences may find the care and attention from cast and crew are in service of a story too simple to truly wow. (James Croot)


While the story eventually drifts into a predictable cross of A Nightmare on Elm Street meets Twilight by way of Labyrinth, there's enough of Mahy's knotty themes and ideas, solid, lovingly-crafted film-making and compelling performances...

Keeping Up with NZ


A dark, gritty coming of age tale and an eerie masterpiece of Kiwi cinema.

Metro NZ (David Larsen)


James is a revelation as Laura, and Timothy Spall, one of the greatest character actors now working, gives her a perfect foil...

Narrative Muse (New Zealand)


A thoughtful, creepy adventure well worth watching.

Off The Tracks


...a superb adaptation, a marvel of a movie. (Sarah Watt)


A worthy addition to the cinematic YA genre which can proudly boast a local edge. (Kate Rodger)


Deeply immersive and affecting, and no question we are witnessing the birth of a real star in young newcomer Erana James.

Worthy of the Hype

This film makes you unbelievably proud to be a New Zealander, especially if you're in the entertainment business! Seeing such amazing performances within a well-crafted story set in one of our most beloved cities leaves viewers with a beautiful piece of Kiwi work that is well worth the watch. Congratulations to Stuart McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt as directors, Margaret Mahy as the author of the original book, and all the cast and crew who brought this story to life

Kiwi Klassic

A seriously beautiful, eerie, haunting film fuelled by a seriously strong story. Performances are A++. Erana James is incredible as the lead opposite an impossibly insidious Timothy Spall, along with Nicholas Galitzine who is super mysterious. Such a cool coming of age film that I can definitely relate to, aside from turning into a witch! Sosososo good, get in and see this piece of kiwi magic now!

Really worth seeing!

I saw this film recently, and it was really good! I didn't know if it was for me, but a friend took me and I'm really glad I saw it. It keeps you hooked all the way through, and it has so many good actors, even international ones like the guy from Harry Potter!

It feels like an instant kiwi classic, and now I want to read more of Margaret Mahy's work.

A Kiwi Young Adult film worth seeing

Forget the stereotypical American Hollywood young adult flicks, and see Miranda Harcourt's and Stewart McKenzie's amazing new Kiwi film The Changeover, based on Margaret Mahy's novel of the same name, for an artistic, fantastical twist, with an element of horror. This is a film worth paying that bit extra to see in the cinemas, so do it!

Kiwi film worth wathing with the kids this holidays

If you're looking for a movie to watch this holidays, forget the one's from America, England or where ever, go and see this Kiwi film. A fantastic movie about teens facing teen issues, including a mother who seems very distracted, an absent father and a little brother you have to take care of. Then throw in a hot guy, some witchcraft and a broken city and you've got something quite special going on. This movie is perfect for teens, but not just teens, take your teens and if you read the book as a kid yourself, you won't be disappointed! This is four star movie magic, made right here in NZ.

A Kiwiana classic

Miranda Harcourt’s and Stewart McKenzies The Changeover gives the audience a glimpse in the life of Mahy herself, modernised in this adaptation. The interesting part, is that films change overtime and people these days are able to relate to films like this one when they have certain storytelling and less cliche tropes. Seriously, who walks away from explosions without looking at it? Come on Michael bay.

The film focuses on this unconditional love and commitment all at once. Laura’s (Erana James’) chemistry with her little brother Jacko (Benji Purchase) flows naturally with warmth and affection. Her determination to help her brother and defeat the dreaded Animagus (ahem) Carmody Braque (Timothy Spall) felt uneasy and direct at the same time. It left me feel a pensive sadness

for Laura. The combination of vulnerability and struggle is what made this film for me. It felt personal and it felt established. It’s safe to say that this will gain a great cult-following.