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  Lifechanger Body Stealer
Year: 2018
Director: Justin McConnell
Stars: Lola Burke, Jack Foley, Elitsa Bako, Rachel VanDuzer, Steve Kasan, Sam White, Bill Oberst Jr, Peter Higginson, Adam Buller, Brian Quintero, Uche Ama, Mark Rainmaker, Ry Barrett, Michelle D'Alessandro Hatt, Daniel Farado, Willem Halfyard
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Drew (voiceover by Bill Oberst Jr) has been around a while, maybe too long, as his faculties appear to be failing him. Maybe he never knew the full parameters of his abilities, maybe he forgot, but it seems to him he used to be a lot better at this life thing - or should he say these lives thing? For Drew is a kind of vampire, only he doesn't suck blood, he sucks personalities and bodies out of his victims and many years ago he used to be able to stay in one form for a very long time, yet nowadays he's lucky if he makes it to a few days before he starts to rot. So on he goes, draining his victims and hoping that this next one will stick, because he is running out of options...

Even if there was no more life left in the main character here, it was clear there was life left in the vampire concept on this evidence as it took the body possession theme of movies like The Hidden or Fallen and gave it a more personal, Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist which although it resembled a deeply eccentric relationship drama for stretches of the story, nevertheless felt original enough to be worth investing in its anti-hero's adventures. You felt a weird sort of sympathy for his plight, though that was largely because you had not got to know him and by the conclusion you wondered if it was pity he needed or simply his own Van Helsing to put a stop to him.

Making this more interesting, and evidence of good scripting by the director Justin McConnell, was that Lifechanger effectively operated as an ensemble piece, purely by necessity thanks to the plot involving the protagonist radically altering his appearance every ten or fifteen minutes or so. You started to look for consistency in each performance, and the pleasant surprise was that it was definitely present, be that in the dialogue (one young lady incarnation starts to reminisce about the nineteen-seventies before realising her current body is too young to have any recollection of it whatsoever) or in the cast sharing a general tone of performance that convinced.

Although obviously a lower budget enterprise, and part of a very crowded field, McConnell was lucky in that his cinematographer Sasha Moric was extremely skilful at conveying a moody, atmospheric sense of empty dread that mirrored Drew's curiously aimless purpose, an ache in his soul, assuming he had one. It really did look impressive, a shadowy netherworld that came across as familiar without being somewhere most of us would be comfortable inhabiting, and that, coupled with sparingly-used but accomplished special effects sustained what was a determinedly off-kilter film. Drew does believe he has a purpose, you see, and it's not merely a question of survival, he wants to fulfil the life of the woman he loves, whose partner he took away a while ago and wants to recreate him for her.

She is Julia Wilson (Lola Burke), played with just the right touch of melancholy that she doesn't display at all times, and she is reduced to seeking company in bars, not for sex, but simply for someone to talk to for a while. What she doesn't realise, in horrible irony, is that the people she has been chatting to these past few nights, all of whom seemed genuinely interested in her, have all been Drew in various guises as he increasingly desperately comes to believe that being in love is what will help him through. What you can predict, even if you don't want to acknowledge it, is that anyone who gets close to him is in real danger, and we begin to fear for Julia no matter how much romance is in the vampire's heart: it's as if the scorpion is in love with the frog from that celebrated parable. Despite that, Lifechanger did not reach its finale quite as you might anticipate, though it was not exactly a happy ending, not the one that you or Drew might have been hoping for. The lack of resources did show, but this satisfied should you give it a chance. Music by Sean Motley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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