Director: Justin McConnell
Cast: Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Steve Kasan, Sam James
Watch Lifechanger online in the UK: Autumn 2018
The opening scene of Lifechanger sees a young woman lying next to another young woman in a bed; one of them is living, and one of them is dead. The living woman wakes up, stretches, saws off the corpse’s limbs and disposes of the body before going about her day. She then goes home, smokes some weed and receives a knock at the door from a police investigator. The woman murders the young investigator, and the process continues again.
Why? Because we are watching a murderous shapeshifter, who transports from one body to another at the first sign of decay. They attempt to live for as long as possible as a new organism until rigor mortis sets in and, alas, metamorphosis must resume. This ambitious Canadian horror is written and directed by horror writer Justin McConnell, whose previous works include Broken Mile (2016) and the 2011 sci-fi horror The Collapsed (2011). The poster echoes elements of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), whilst the film itself is more Lovecraftian with elements of Manhunter (1986) and Dexter (2006-2013).
It’s an interesting premise, with a dynamic voiceover and engaging imagery, and the after-effects of every transition are genuinely creepy and alluring – with a climatic scene mirroring peak Cronenberg to great effect. The performances, however, let the film down and you find yourself less engaged the more the narrative unfolds. What starts off as a fascinating and eerie character gradually turns into a seedy and derivative motif that we’ve seen time and time again.
There’s no denying that Lifechanger embodies McConnell’s clear love for horror and honours the genre admirably. The film upholds the various codes and conventions required: body horror through shapeshifting; grotesque gore with dismemberment; gothic horror through emotive music; and macabre suspense through its elevation of the serial killer. However, having all the pieces doesn’t necessarily mean you can put the puzzle together. Lifechanger, unfortunately, ends with a somewhat distorted picture.
Lifechanger will be released in autumn by FrightFest Presents, following its European Premiere at FrightFest 2018.