Starring Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako
Written by Justin McConnell
Directed by Justin McConnell
Reviewed at Fantasia 2018
All too often, many of us run into the issue of finding something original and exciting to watch. We scour the world for an attractive title with a cool cover. We hope these two things lead us to an appealing synopsis and ultimately – an enjoyable experience. Lifechanger, written and directed by Justin McConnell, had the name right when I first walked the halls of Fantasia International Film Festival. The cover was next, presenting a corpse flaunting different colored butterfly wings. The tagline above stated, “It becomes you.” I read the synopsis, which began with the words, “A murderous shapeshifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission…” Needless to say, I entered the theater…and I am fortunate that I did.
Lifechanger greets us with a woman in bed with a corpse. We have no idea what this woman is doing or why she’s here. Furthermore, she’s calm about the corpse, like she’s been in this position before. Our suspicion is confirmed as she saws the body in the bathtub, stuffs the pieces in trash bags, and drives the trash bags to a place to burn them inconspicuously. She finds a diner and practices her own name, Emily Roberts (Elitsa Bako). Content with her rehearsal, Emily returns to her own home, opening the door, touching her countertop as if she’s never been there before, but easily locating a hidden bag of marijuana as if she’s known its location the entire time. She’s at peace as she smokes. However, once her boyfriend James (Adam Buller) enters the frame, worried yet relieved that she’s returned, we see anger arrive in her eyes. The real killing begins.
This film has a lot of great qualities, but above all I must applaud the acting. In order for a story like this to work, the acting cannot suffer. In Lifechanger, each actor had to play their original role plus the role of this thing that was inside them. Typically, an actor is hired to become one or maybe two characters. But in this film, the thing that takes over retains not only the original character’s memories, but also the memories of the character before it – and every other person it has ever inhabited. Imagine having to be you and multiple other people with all of their memories and experiences. This puts an actor in a different frame of mind, having to act like people that don’t even exist in the script.
For the first twenty minutes, you are hypnotized by the deaths of the innocent. You’re unsure of who to blame until you realize there is something – not someone – that is killing them. When you realize that the killer is intangible, you’re left wondering if this is all happening for a reason you’re willing to accept. Once you find out that reason, you wonder if it’s enough. Fortunately, a voiceover guides your thoughts, answering some of the questions that arise in your mind. But you soon feel incomplete because this “thing” is incomplete. It’s also searching for answers.
Lifechanger will leave you asking questions, albeit good questions. If you make the mistake of knowing someone else that has seen it, you will most likely dive into deep conversations about the characters, the “thing” and the ending. Lifechanger is a cerebral piece you won’t want to miss.
Lifechanger is a horror film filled with layers of emotion. It revels in realms of an early classic 1980s horror film with its practical special effects and makeup.