written and directed by Justin McConnell
by Bill Chambers Emily (Elitsa Bako) lies naked in bed next to her own desiccated corpse. She returns home to a fretting boyfriend (Adam Buller) who says she's been missing for days. Against her wishes he calls the police to tell them she's returned, so she sticks a corkscrew in his neck. She's already beginning to decay, though. When Detective Freddie Ransone (Steve Kasan) pops 'round to see whether she's turned up yet, she takes the opportunity to snatch herself a new meat-cage: his. It's a lather-rinse-repeat pattern the movie soon establishes, as unidentified lifeform "Drew" identity-hops around the city at Christmastime. Lifechanger is a bit like The Hidden without anyone on screen trying to hunt down the alien, whose materialist appetites are here replaced by lovesickness. Drew retains his personal memories in addition to inheriting those of his hosts, although he doesn't really have any use for the latter. We know this partly due to Drew's narration (read by horror mainstay Bill Oberst Jr.)--a cue perhaps taken from Peter Watts's fabulous short story "The Things," which gives voice to the shapeshifter of John Carpenter's The Thing. By virtue of this innovation and all the mortal angst he expresses Drew becomes the most human character on screen, but then again his thoughts do tend to be dismayingly prosaic and expository for something not of this earth.
Eventually a throughline resolves and it begins to make sense that Drew keeps ducking into the same bar every evening and encountering the same lonely blonde, Julia (Lora Burke), who greets each new guise of his with varying levels of receptivity. (He seems particularly crestfallen that she friend-zones him when flirting with her as a woman.) She's the beauty to his beast, but the speed with which his bodies now expire, coupled with a spectacularly inefficient screenplay, conspire to keep them apart. Why, for instance, doesn't Emily just hijack her boyfriend's body instead of delaying the inevitable? There's an awful lot of busywork in the film that feels suspiciously like padding, though I enjoyed a scene where, as a dentist (Sam White), Drew enthusiastically greets the opportunity to traumatize a child patient. But a bigger problem, at least for me, is that Julia's lacking the ethereal quality common to the horror genre's great love interests; there are no dusty paintings of this woman under cloths in some count's attic. She's--and I must clarify I mean the character, not actress Burke, who has an appealing Shirley Knight quality--Ann Veal. It's especially disappointing because when Lifechanger finally settles down into a two-hander, she's matched with the most charismatic of his personas (played by Jack Foley, looking like a cross between Rick Baker and Judah Mannowdog), who throws Julia's blandness into stark relief. His infatuation is at best an unexplored irony, one of many in a film that has all the ingredients for something truly clever, yet thinks a little small. Fantasia Fest 2018 - Programme: Selection 2018