15th Aug2018

Fantasia 2018: ‘Lifechanger’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Elitsa Bako, Lora Burke, Jack Foley, Sam James White, Steve Kasan, Bill Oberst Jr., Rachel Vanduzer | Written and Directed by Justin McConnell


Lifechanger is a Canadian film. You might not think Canada is best known for its horror movies but it’s delivered some very good ones and some very important ones. From Black Christmas to Cube to Backcountry to Prom Night, it’s a list that could go on and on.

The basic story here, like many movies, is at the surface, very simple. A ‘being’, not really human moves from body to body of its victims. It believes it has to kill to stay alive and these deaths become very frequent as the host body deteriorates. But entwined with this is a love story that has lasted beyond each human body. Okay, they may have sounded a little bit complicated but this is a surprisingly easy film to follow. It actually plays out like an anthology for the first two thirds of its run time, while for its final third things kind of slow down to reach its climax.

Things run a long at a good pace. There’s no real time explaining each character, before or even after they have been taken over. They can be male or female, work in any type of job and be any type of person, which is why it has the anthology ‘feel’.

Everything looks very good, the cinematography is great and performances are brilliant. Each role is cast very well. Whether its inexperienced actors like Jack Foley or Rachel VanDuzer, to someone who has starred in more well known movies – Elitsa Bako in Antiviral, to the slightly more experienced Steve Kasan and Lora Burke. There’s also genre favourite Bill Oberst Jr. Doing some voice work. Everyone is enjoyable and do great with what they are given. Bako and Foley in particular made me think they will be doing bigger things in the future.

Director Justin McConnell has got his experience from making short films and it’s obviously worked. He also wrote Lifechanger and it’s a refreshing original horror movie. Mixing it with a love story might seem strange and it might put off some genre fans but it works really well. Reminding me at times of the fantastic Spring.

One of the things that stood out for me in Lifechanger were the fight scenes. They are really well choreographed, look at times violent but most importantly realistic. This obviously isn’t John Wick but the hand to hand combat (and throw in the odd lampshade) are an exciting watch. There’s not actually too much gore considering how many deaths there are but there is plenty of Cronenberg-inspired body horror that includes a perfect blend of practical effects and decent looking CGI.

Following its screening at Fantasia, Lifechanger will be making its European premiere at this years Frightfest in London; and I can definitely see this film being talked about in very positives ways in the bars by the people that are lucky (or clever) enough to go and see it.

**** 4/5

Lifechanger screened at Fantasia 2018 only July 20th. It screens at Frightfest on August 24th and August 26th as part of the Discovery Screen.


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