December 26, 2018 Lifechanger (Movie Review)
What if true love had to take a back burner to your own survival, but her beautiful ghostly essence plagued your entire being? Such is the tale of the brand-new Canadian Horror offering Lifechanger, which, after its 2018 successes on the film circuit, arrives to North American VOD on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, thanks to Uncork’d Entertainment and Raven Banner Entertainment. Happy New Year!
Wandering the streets of Toronto, a skinwalker (Bill Oberst Jr.: Scream Queens series, 3 From Hell 2019) inhabits various bodies in an effort to survive. With each progressive body – from Emily (Elitsa Bako: Sweet Karma 2009, Antiviral 2012) to Detective Freddie Ransone (Steve Kasan: A Disappearance short 2015, #Actorslife short 2016), Dr. Sam Richardson (Sam White: Lexx series, New Waterford Girl 1999) to Rachel (Rachel VanDuzer: Three Identical Strangers 2018) – the rot begins to creep in sooner, and he is forced to take a new form to escape deterioration and, ultimately, death. But how do you find stability when your very nature is shape-shifting?
At the Monarch Tavern, counselor-slash-wannabe writer Julia (Lora Burke: The Cocksure Lads Movie 2016, Poor Agnes 2017) holds down court nightly. Haunted by the loss of her young son and the disappearance of her husband, Richard (Ry Barrett: The Demolisher 2015, The Heretics 2018), Julia is weary but hopeful when she meets a handsome man named Robert (Jack Foley: Fugue 2018, Here’s Ginger! series). But can you find love a second time?
With the circle of physical bodies narrowing around the unwitting Julia, she will soon learn that true love never dies. Clocking in at 83 minutes, Lifechanger was written and directed by Justin McConnell (Skull World 2013, Broken Mile 2016) and is an interesting new entry into the Horror genre. With elements of the psychological Thriller, as well as Body Horror, Lifechanger morphs a love story together with a desperate, somewhat bloodthirsty shape-shifting entity. But can true love prevail?
While there are a myriad of issues throughout Lifechanger – from cheap, off-color theatrical blood to some over-the-top murderous audio effects – nothing is ever so ridiculous as to detract from the overall film. Instead, this is a movie that, while it could use some plot-tightening and further character development, is a solidly enjoyable watch. Truth be told, much of Lifechanger’s success is thanks to its stellar ensemble cast who, despite the length and varying details of each of their roles, are all wonderful in their performances.
Bakso’s Emily is given the least amount of material, and while she serves as the character that gets the entire story rolling, she is never fully developed. Kasan’s Ransone and White’s Richardson fair a little better, with White having a few moments of humor peppered into his role which make his character, in particular, memorable. Of the bodies inhabited by our shape,shifter, VanDuzer’s is perhaps the most memorable, as she is provided with more material than her predecessors. Considering this is only her second acting role, she does a wondrous job in the role of Rachel, and gives a performance that is fierce enough to have the ladies in the audience cheering her on.
In the leading role, Burke’s Julia is still poorly-developed, but Burke gives her a grace and eloquence that makes her believable as both a counselor and the love of someone’s life. She is relatable in her personal tragedy, a sympathetic character who we want only the very best for. Seemingly, this goodness is embodied in Foley’s Robert. In the role, Foley too is likable and, despite the audaciousness of the situation, we want him to effectively communicate his needs to Julia. While their talents are already established elsewhere, unfortunately in Lifechanger, both Barrett and Oberst Jr. operate within roles that are entirely flat: Barrett is merely a visual for Julia’s missing husband, while Oberst Jr. serves as the disembodied voice of our skinwalker.
Canadian Horror went above and beyond in 2018, doing the Great White North proud with the likes of Summer of ‘84, Pyewacket, What Keeps You Alive, and many, many more. Starting off 2019 with a solid entry, Lifechanger might not be scary or even particularly creepy, but it’s at the very least interesting enough to keep viewers entertained. Weaving a tale that is part shape-shifting Body Horror and part eternal love story, you have to admit that Lifechanger is unique – and that certainly makes it worth its runtime! For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Lifechanger 3 of 5 stars.