Lifechanger Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Frightfest Presents
Written and directed by Justin McConnell
2018, 84 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 11th March 2018
Lora Burke as Julia Wilson
Jack Foley as Robert
Elitsa Bako as Emily Roberts
Rachel VanDuzer as Rachel
Drew is a very unique kind of serial killer. Murdering through necessity, this supernatural shapeshifter prolongs his life by taking the form and memories of those he kills, absorbing their life-force and leaving behind a dry dead husk. It's Fallen crossed with Under the Skin; the ultimate in identity theft.
Genre star Bill Oberst Jr. is less glamorous than Scarlett Johansson, voicing the internal monologue of Drew like a more chatty Jason Goes to Hell, but it's a great performance, tying the film together through Drew's multiple forms. Time, it appears, isn't on the shapeshifter's side, as recently he struggles to maintain his form for more than a few days at a time. Constantly having to change bodies (and lives) plays havoc with one's romantic prospects, and he struggles to get close to the woman he loves, always having to shift face before he can seal the deal.
Drew's repeated face-swapping is as exhausting for the audience as it is the man himself, resulting in a somewhat disjointed structure. It's repetitive by its own nature, and there's barely time to get to know anyone before the film is on the move again. The only two constants are Oberst's narration and the object of his affection, Julia. Night after night, they are drawn to each other, and although Drew can never make his true nature known, there's clearly a chemistry there. But murder, lies and face-swapping are no basis for a meaningful relationship, and it's clear that the pair of them are in for considerable heartbreak.
In spite of its lumpy structure, this slasher film and body-horror hybrid is a compelling one. It plays out like a minor X-Files tale, heading towards a fairly predictable conclusion, but the gore effects, performances and writing are all strong, making Lifechanger one of the more interesting low-budget horror films out there. It's cheering to see Oberst Jr. in a film worthy of his talent, and he accomplishes a lot of character work with relatively little.
It's disappointing that it should boil down to not much more than a story about a stalker and his obsession, but it is a well-told one. Talk about an open goal; Lifechanger won't change anyone's life, but it's an entertaining diversion all the same.
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