Lifechanger (Fantasia 2018) (Movie Review)

Director: Justin McConnell | Release Date: 2018

5

The beauty of entering a film with zero idea of what you're about to see is unspoiled perception. In the case of Lifechanger for a majority of its runtime, there is a fascinating joy to be had in experiencing its concept. Yet, on the downside it's disappointing when the concept veers off path to unsatisfying destinations.

Lifechanger is presented entirely from the point-of-view of a shapeshifter, or "body thief", who's disembodied voice narrates his thoughts and information about what he is (as far as he knows) to the audience. The body thief switches from body to body as needed, absorbing their memories and leaving the host body as a drained disheveled corpse that he must then cut up and dispose of to avoid being tracked. With a dwindling amount of time in each new body before the skin begins a decomposition process (the "rot", as he refers to it) he seeks to rekindle a romance with the only woman he believes he ever truly loved.

The rules of how this supernatural body theft works are told over the narration in bits and pierces though the film doesn't exactly abide by the rules as set forth. For instance, early on our shapeshifter indicates that years ago he could survive in one body for years at a time but recently the bodies only last for about 6 hours before "the rot" sets in. Later he spends a large portion in one body for what seems like at least a day or two without any sign of significant decomposition. Then there's awkward details like the need for coke (cocaine) that I guess helps along the process of switching bodies when the time comes--there's any number of confusing details like these that simply don't work like they probably should. In fact, the narration often is a pain point for Lifechanger in its never-ending campaign to dump information on the audience, some of which isn't entirely necessary to enjoy what is otherwise a pretty engaging premise.

One of the uniquely fun aspects of Justin McConnell's film is that the antagonist as it were is played by a varying array of actors since he switches bodies a number of times over the course of the film. The only main character that's consistent is the love interest, Julia (Lora Burke). Julia frequents a local dive bar which serves as the site where the "body thief" attempts to insinuate himself into her life whenever he enters a new body. Men and women both cross paths with Julia as circumstances keep getting in the way making the tension of the situation continue to crescendo before a finale that has immense emotional prospects despite being somewhat inelegant in execution.

Lifechanger is a genre film that knows how to have fun with its premise despite an over abundance of blandly written narration. It's unfortunate that foggy rules and an inconsistent script restrict this one from ever reaching its full potential.

Screened as part of the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival.

Luke

Writer

Horror movies and beer - the only two viable options for entertainment in the wastelands of Nebraska as far as he's concerned. When he's not in the theater he's probably drinking away the sorrows of being a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.

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