Lifechanger: A Review
by Luce Allan
In Lifechanger (2018), love brings the only meaning to the gruesome rituals that a man must perform in order to survive. Drew, a shapeshifter, must kill people in order to temporarily inhabit their bodies, which deteriorate in only a few days. The only positive constant in Drew’s grim and guilt-ridden existence is Julia (Lora Burke), a kind and beautiful woman with whom Drew has fallen in love over a period of several years and a multitude of physical forms. His determination to remain in close proximity to her, however, quickly escalates into a claustrophobic vortex of murder and inescapable truths.
Lifechanger provides an interesting and well-constructed take on shapeshifting and the emotional complexities therein, which is buoyed by a unique ensemble cast. Due to the nature of the main character, several actors portray Drew in the film, including Elitsa Bako, Steve Kasan, Sam White, Rachel VanDuzer, Jack Foley, and Peter Higginson (with Bill Oberst Jr. acting as Drew’s overarching voice). Despite the wide and varying range of ages, appearances, and vocal qualities of the aforementioned actors, the strengths of their individual performances combine into an impressively cohesive whole, with similar mannerisms and displays of emotion present in each actor as Drew’s form progresses throughout the film. Lora Burke’s performance as Julia radiates an Elizabeth Mitchell-esque sense of warmth and sincerity that balances the bleakness and gore that pervade Drew’s day-to-day existence, and the chemistry between Burke and the various actors who portray Drew is believable and, at times, even electric.
Although the film can feel a bit uneven in tone at certain points and the plot sometimes moves slowly, the contrasting elements that represent both a straightforward horror film and a heartwarming indie romance film are intriguing as they collide, whether in harmony or discord. This contrast is most interesting in terms of aesthetics, as the stark and well-crafted gore splatters with ferocity against the warm tones that often pervade the setting. The lore included in the film is generally thorough and close to being fully-realized; as the ending has an open-ended feel, it is implied that a sequel may present an even more well-rounded picture of Drew and his abilities.
Overall, Lifechanger is an intriguing and nuanced film with the potential to expand its universe and further improve upon this movie’s foundation.