LIFECHANGER is a provocative genre-bending body horror film


LIFECHANGER is a quiet, melancholy body horror film with a romantic heart that adds a unique perspective to an age-old legend.

Earlier this year a movie was released called Every Day. It was the story of a person who wakes up every single day in someone else’s body and yet still falls in love in the course of this journey. LIFECHANGER has a very similar premise to Every Day except with a distinct horror slant and more mature material.

LIFECHANGER is far more visceral of an experience as the main character, Drew, is something akin to a skin-walker from folklore. Drew has been alive for a long time. He must change into a different body every so often when his current vessel begins to rot.

To make this change, he has to murder the person whose identity he intends to usurp. Over the course of his life he has taken the form of men and women from all walks of life. He adapts to their physicality, their voice, their memories, essentially evolving into a whole other person with every change.

The only constant in his life is Julie Wilson (Lora Burke), the woman Drew is in love with. Drew has been shapeshifting into different people for some time now and visiting the bar Julie inhabits nearly every night to get away from the clamor of her own life. She claims to find solace in the bar and as such is open to talking with Drew amidst his various forms.

Every interaction Drew has with Julie, regardless of what he looks like at the time, is very natural. It must have been difficult in production to ensure every different actor was playing Drew the same way. I read that they actually had a boot camp for the actors to adapt to his many differing tics and habits. This detail shows as I never doubted that these very different people were playing the exact same person and it adds a sense of realism to the film.

Pictured: Lora Burke and Rachel Vanduzer – Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment

I wouldn’t describe LIFECHANGER as a traditional horror film, even though it definitely has some very disturbing moments. The method Drew uses to change bodies is not for the squeamish. The dried husks of the people he kills litter the background as he flexes and adapts to each new skin suit.

Given the life Drew leads, it is inevitable he will leave behind a trail of bodies a mile long. The conflict begins when the police become aware of this murder spree but this also brings us to one of the film’s flaws. The conflict is too contained and easily surmountable.

But then, depending on how you look at it, the real conflict is also the fact he can’t ever have a real relationship with Julie because he can’t stay in one body forever. There are tricks he has discovered to lengthen his staying power, but inevitably he will be forced to trade in one body for another, not unlike a hermit crab outgrowing its shell.

One thing I found so compelling about LIFECHANGER was its script. Justin McConnell, who wrote and directed the film, has made a movie that challenges societal perceptions of male interactions with women.

Drew thinks he is a sympathetic character but in reality, he has laid ruin to countless lives over his years roaming the earth. To him, Julie is a way for him to seek redemption and because of this, he demands a certain ownership over her life. He is possessive of her, stalking and tracking her every movement with his infallible survival technique.

By perfecting methods of disguise, there are no real threats to his chosen lifestyle. The odds of Julie discovering what Drew really is of her own accord are minimal.

He is able to learn about Julie though the lens of many different people, each one getting their own unique perspective that Drew can then compile and mold, crafting himself into the vision of Julie’s dreams. Drew romanticizes these trademark symptoms of abuse and toxicity.

There is never a question of consent to him. The act of taking someone else’s body through violent means and then using it at your discretion indicates someone who doesn’t adhere to traditional rules of consent in general, but to then use these bodies as a tool to haunt a woman’s life because he deems her “the one” is even more lecherous.

Pictured Jack Foley – Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment

Julie is vulnerable to Drew’s advances without even being aware of it. This lack of transparency colors all of their interactions sinister. McConnell does an excellent job of navigating these tricky waters with deeply profound internal monologuing on Drew’s part.

Even though we live inside of his head, we aren’t necessarily meant to see him as a good person. He doesn’t attempt to make the audience sympathize with him, merely to understand his motivations.

McConnell gave an enlightening interview with SYFY Wire about his intentions with this film and the deconstruction of the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope and the way many romantic films create unattainable women that their male leads can then chase after as if they are treasures to be won.

The following quote from the interview is an excellent summation of LIFECHANGER’s goals and Drew’s characterization:

"“[The shapeshifter is] coming up with excuses with the evil he’s doing. And the film is not supporting him. It’s condemning him in a lot of ways.”"

In this day and age, it’s great to have male filmmakers addressing the culture with such a provocative and interesting story. By addressing issues that have finally begun to come to light in the era of #MeToo he is assisting in trying to make necessary and vital changes by spinning it into an introspective genre film.

Not only are the underlying themes genuinely meaningful but the film will actually unnerve and creep you out. I was chilled by Drew and his intentions towards Julie, especially because he saw nothing wrong with his actions.

The gore too, is unsettling. The way they filmed and designed the scenes where Drew actually kills people to move from body to body is pretty graphic. Watching a body rot while still being animated is so wrong and against everything we know about human anatomy that it’s impossible to see and not feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

With the amount of horror films and television shows I consume on a regular basis, it’s not often I come across a film bold enough to challenge genre conventions but LIFECHANGER is exactly that film.

The ending is poignant and strange, full of violence and the beautifully eerie culmination of Drew being confronted by all of his worst fears. It has staying power, I’ll be thinking about this film and the intentions behind it for weeks to come.

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LIFECHANGER was produced by 9 Light Entertainment in association with Federgreen Entertainment and Unstable Ground. It will be distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment in the United States whereas Raven Banner Entertainment is the Canadian distributor.

LIFECHANGER will be available on VOD beginning January 1, 2019. 

Will you watch LIFECHANGER? What are your favorite movies containing body horror? Let us know in the comments!