LIFECHANGER **** Canada 2018 Dir: Justin McConnell. 84 mins
“Survival becomes just another job…” We’ve had many shape-shifting / body-hopping movies, with stand-out 80’s action-horror hybrid THE HIDDEN inspiring imitations from Wes Craven’s frankly dreadful SHOCKER to the engagingly goofy JASON GOES TO HELL. This one is told entirely from the perspective of the ageing body-hopper himself, represented by various male and female actors and in voiceover by the elegiac vocals of Bill Oberst Jr. Known as “Drew” this mysterious figure has to constantly find a new host or face death.
Cocaine helps speed up the process when he needs it to happen swiftly. He apologises to victims before killing them and has found, as he ages, that injuries sustained while in one body now follow to the next physical form. Our introduction to Drew’s life is a scene of violent horror to the casual observer but entirely routine in his life cycle. Quickly, we learn how his spirit is drained by this cruel routine, sharing in his loneliness and his occasional escapist refuge in movies. The story’s core is Drew’s love for an equally solitary young counsellor, Julia (Lora Burke), who spends her evenings propping up a bar described as a place “where time comes to die”. In his various incarnations of different ages and genders, Drew returns to her in a bid to sustain some kind of relationship, while the melancholic tone is leavened by a streak of wit – notably his view on being chatted up by douchebags while in the body of a beautiful young woman. It’s a trim movie with no heavy-handed exposition or extraneous characters, and restrained use of FX: the most overt foray into body horror is at the end via a sequence that proves oddly beautiful and moving rather than grotesque. Writer-director McConnell touches us with an offbeat love story that can only end one way and finds a relatable banality and sadness to the extraordinary existence of his protagonist. Drew faces the same everyday woes of all of us: the encroaching spectre of age, emotional vulnerability and periods of overwhelming loneliness with only one guaranteed outcome.
Review by Steven West