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Replace Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Uncork'd Entertainment

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Directed by Norbert Keil
Written by Norbert Keil and Richard Stanley
2017, 101 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 1st, 2019

Starring:
Rebecca Forsythe as Kira Mabon
Lucie Aron as Sophia Demeraux
Barbara Crampton as Dr. Rafaela Crober
Sean Knopp as Jonas Swierczynski

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Review:

Timeless beauty (and complete badass) Bette Davis famously said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” That quote should be on the cover of Norbert Keill and Richard Stanley’s sci-fi body horror nightmare, Replace. It’s better than anything I can come up with, honestly.

Kira Mabon (Rebecca Forsythe; The Bronx Bull) is the picture of youth and the standard of American beauty. She’s also unseemingly vain and unhealthily obsessed with staying young at all costs. She’s going through a strange time in her life after a one-night stand finds her ghosted in an apartment she doesn’t recognize. That’s not the worst of it, though – her skin is drying up and dying at an alarming rate and spreading across her body. She’s hallucinating and can’t remember anything further back than a week in her past. Her doctor, Rafaela Crober (Barbara Crampton; Re-Animator, Into the Dark: “Culture Shock”), runs tests and tries to keep her calm, but it’s clear that she’s not telling everything she knows. Her amorous neighbor, Sophia (Lucie Aron; You Are Wanted), also tries to help while simultaneously putting the moves on her. You could say life is falling apart as she is falling apart. But she’s so young! How can this be? When Kira discovers that she can replace her dying skin with the live flesh of others, she sets off on a dark and murderous path that is guaranteed to end badly.

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Replace is a vampire story full of sci-fi flavor framed with all the trappings of body horror and an Argento-esque color palette (red during kills, green in the morgue, blue at moments of peace/relief). It’s a heady mix that isn’t always coherent (especially in the early going), but there’s no shortage of underlying message and the writing approaches the classic monster tale from a universally relevant and relatable perspective. It’s a clever turn.

The sense of a life in pieces and the disorientation of not knowing who you truly are anymore is so effective, in fact, that it makes for a fair degree of confusion and disconnect in the first thirty or so minutes. All of this is necessary; you simply must plod your way through it to get to the payoff. So layered is the depth of strangeness that the cinematic look of the film itself is grainy and blurry, gradually growing sharper as Kira finds herself and feeds the desires of the classic American vampire.

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Rebecca Forsythe is wonderful as the beauty who simply can’t stop fighting to stay that way, while Lucie Aron serves as a bit of a distraction whose full import doesn’t come around until the final scene in one hell of a strong finish. Barbara Crampton is, well…she’s as legendary as you’d expect. There are moments where she channels her inner Jeffrey Combs to hideous effect. I’m sure it’s no coincidence, given the subject matter and message, that they cast her for this role, as she was famously out of fashion in Hollywood for many years due to aging and no longer being the “young hottie”. It’s a rather lovely touch.

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The SFX are never over the top, but manage to make you squeamish, nonetheless. I speak from experience: In my mid-20s, I had an allergic reaction to Neosporin that caused 90% of the skin on my hands to fall off in sheets! I missed almost a month of work and had to keep my hands coated in slimy ointment while the skin regenerated; true story! So, believe me when I tell you that if you’ve ever had a skin condition there are scenes in here that will greatly fuck with you.

It’s not a perfect vehicle, but Replace is smartly written sci-fi body horror rooted in deep human desire that we all either have faced or will face and is an interesting asterisk in vampire lore. It makes a strong statement about the vampirism of aging and the obsession for youth at all costs.

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Grades:

Movie: Fourstars Replace Small
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About The Author
Stuart Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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