Lifechanger

Bodies. So fragile. So easily damaged. So impermanent, yet so important. But just try getting rid of one. Or several, in fact. That’s when it becomes apparent just how frustrating bodies can be, remains hanging hanging around in that unfortunate way that law enforcement tend to regard as “incriminating evidence.”

Most organisms depend on death for their continuing lives in some way or another; some are more direct about it. Taking the form of one stolen body after another, leaving the drained husks behind as it takes their form and their memories, it is the only way the shapeshifter can survive; once it could last years in a single form, but now the black rot appears after only days, sometimes hours.

That accelerated life cycle means less planning and preparation, and desperation means expedience rather than prudence in the selection of hosts, less meticulous clean up operations of the remains, and despite there being no links to form a chain with the shapeshifter having taken a new face, sooner or later the past will catch up…

Written and directed by Justin McConnell, Lifechanger is a low-key horror film of an unusual individual operating in extreme circumstances outside of any moral framework which might be provided by the guidance of any other person with the same life experience, existing in the human world yet set apart from it, the people it meets somewhere between opportunity and raw material rather than peers.

Resigned to the repetitive processes of its life but always wanting something deeper, the shapeshifter’s point of view is narrated by Bill Oberst, Jr, the only constant in the film while the physical role passes through many hands, Emily (Elitsa Bako), Detective Ransone (Steve Kasan), Sam (Sam White), Rachel (Rachel VanDuzer) and Robert (Jack Foley).

Each inherited life arriving with its own complications, the demands on an attractive single woman different but no less persistent than those on a family man, that elusive something the shapeshifter seeks is Julia (Lora Burke) around whom it endlessly orbits, hanging around the bar where she drinks every nights, a parade of moths in different disguises circling the flame, hoping that bright warmth might fill the emptiness.

Unconventional and largely playing against the expectation set up by the early scenes, the drained body prosthetics reminding of the husks of Tobe Hooper’s LifeForce, Lifechanger never manages to escape the feeling of being a Canadian made-for-television movie where the idea is bigger than the budget, though that is preferable to the reverse.

For the most part a narrative character study with occasional diversions to bloody body horror, the performances are on the whole good although the final act is let down by McConnell’s script which never explores the possibilities as deeply as Joe Haldeman‘s novel Camouflage which features a similar shapeshifter, but unlike the extended lifespan of the protagonist at only eighty minutes nor does Lifechanger stretch itself needlessly.

Lifechanger is available on digital from Signature Entertainment as part of their “FrightFest presents” range from Monday 11th March

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