Lifechanger (FrightFest Presents)

Jumping from body to body to survive, parasitic shapeshifter Drew must solve the mystery of his rapid decay, before it’s too late.

At the heart of his constant need to evolve and body snatch is Julia, the wife of a body he took years ago, falling in love with her through the memories, feelings and thoughts of her husband. Oblivious to his “condition” and believing him to have abandoned her, Julia drinks at the same bar every night, entering into conversation with an endless stream of strangers, none of whom she realises is her disappeared spouse.

Bill Oberst Jnr. plays Drew in voiceover, the voice of an older man narrating the perils of such a transient life. Explanations of the dos, don’ts and logistics of being a Skinwalker in the modern world. Who’s fair game, how he tries to avoid people with someone waiting for them at home, and through his guilt, sarcasm and soft-around-the-edges nostalgia, you come to find him as a kind of anti-hero, funny even, a creature who is a mystery even to himself, just trying to do the right thing.

With an ever-accelerating life cycle, Drew becomes more reckless choosing his next vessel, and as the bodies start piling up, so does his desperation to taste a life with Julia whilst he still can.

Don’t get me wrong. The fetid, rotting, bubbling, greasy, leaky body-swap effects aren’t in any way compromised by the somewhat touching nature of the story. David Scott, who was also responsible for the make-up effects on Pyewacket, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Antibirth, delivers juicy and creeping horror reminiscent of films like The Fly, that become more disgusting with shrinking of Drew’s lifespan.

The only really unlikeable thing about the whole film, unfortunately, is Julia. Despite the obvious dangers associated with going back to the same bar every night to have endless introductory conversations with his love under ever-changing guises, it’s difficult to see exactly why Drew might take the risk in the first place.

However, this could be explained by the rushed pacing of the film. Barreling through bodies, single women, family men, and at one point even seeming to consider a child an option, we’re not given any real time with the characters, or even Drew’s understanding of his situation. After managing to postpone his seemingly imminent death long enough to enter into a functional relationship with the object of his affections, comes an intense, but quite inconclusive ending.  It doesn’t seem to do the better aspects of this film justice, and at a relatively short running time of an hour and twenty minutes, it feels like a bit of an unnecessary shame. Characters from the bar with interwoven lives, and family dynamics and problems all their own are touched on, but not given any great depth. Lifechanger is a little disappointing, but only because the large majority of it is incredibly original and thoroughly enjoyable and it ultimately leaves its audience wanting more… Sophie Francois

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