TADFF: Lifechanger (2018) Review



Lifechanger is a tension-filled and often disturbing thriller with a cast at the top of their game. One of the most original pictures of the year.

Once again this isn’t an action movie but it’s part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival so I am posting my review here. It was preceded by a short film called Clown Killer by Althea Manasan which may be my favourite short of the Festival to date. It tells the story of a girl who is told by a clown that on the night of her 20th birthday he will killer her… but she has other plans. It’s mostly funny but also satisfyingly creepy.

Plot: A murderous shape-shifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves but had to leave behind for her own safety’s sake. But zipping between ever-faster body snatches is becoming confusing, mind-bending and more debilitating by the minute. Something has got to give. Like dark romance, feral natural instincts and fractured sanity. Time to take a dive into the deep aliveness that comes from following your broken heart, in acting on what you love despite the monstrous circumstances, alien limitations, hidden emotions or fears of the shocking unknown.

Review: Local filmmaker Justin McConnell directs this body horror thriller about a murderous shape-shifter who sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves.

It wastes no time getting going and moves along at a brisk pace with several disturbing moments as our protagonist (antagonist?) takes over various bodies trying to survive.

The film does something unique keeping the character shrouded in mystery and despite the moments of horror it is at its core a love story… in a rather creepy fashion.

Considering the film’s modest budget the cast are fantastic each making the role their own but it’s Lora Burke who steals the show with a heartbreaking performance as Julia who spends her nights sitting in a bar to try and take her mind off her personal tragedy.

Described as a Skin Walker it’s hard to really sympathize with our protagonist as he is a killer who at times seems to really enjoy taking over people’s lives so we aren’t exactly rooting for him/her/it. It’s more out of morbid curiosity that we want to see how this unpredictable tale will end.

It still gets tense especially when the cops start closing in at one point which is arguably the film’s highlight.

The first half is more horror with the second becoming about the characters and their inner turmoil with some romance also thrown in. It’s not exactly cheery stuff with director Justin describing it as melancholy which is the perfect word.

My only real gripe was I struggled to hear the voiceover at times which got drowned out by the score especially during the finale but I really liked the music and it was at times incredibly unsettling.

Overall, Lifechanger has an intense first half with some choice moments of horror and a cast who give it their all. It may not be for everyone but it’s enjoyably unique and disturbing.