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article imageReview: ‘Lifechanger’ finds discomfort in habit Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 3, 2019 in Entertainment
‘Lifechanger’ is an engrossing narrative that subtly debates the value of one life over another via an immortal man’s choices.
Many cultures have their own mythologies that pass from one generation to the next. Their origins are long since forgotten, but the legend lives on — first through word of mouth, then written recordings and finally film adaptations. Throughout Europe, the legend of the changeling says they can take the form of a child who wanders across their path, tricking their loved ones until it’s too late for rescue. Navajo people tell of skin-walkers, which are beings with the ability to take another individual’s form and persona. In Lifechanger, no one is quite sure what is happening but it’s definitely out of the ordinary.
He was a child when it began, but the intervals between shifts have become increasingly shorter. His current form is just one of many he’s taken over the decades and he’s already selected his next. Once the body he inhabits begins to rot, he must find someone else to emulate or risk dying himself. The fact the process kills the other person has become commonplace and rationalized via his own need for survival. His obsession with a lonely woman in a bar is curious as each new façade provides a fresh opportunity to court her in whatever manner is appropriate for the shell… but each connection is also another chance of hurting her.
The man at the centre of the story could’ve been the prime suspect in a case Mulder and Scully investigated on The X-Files. In spite of a few decades of research, he’s no closer to understanding what he is than when he started. However, his increased rate of decay is making him a bit sloppy and he’s starting to draw attention — luckily, years of evading (and being) the law tends to give him the upper-hand. The entire transformation process is never shown, but what remains of his victims gives audiences a pretty good indication of what might be happening.
He’s like a vampire or parasite that feeds on people. Consequently, he’s become alarming comfortable with the lethal consequences of his existence and adept at disposing the evidence. Like his conscience, the voice of the narrator (Bill Oberst Jr.) is consistent as he matter-of-factly describes what it’s like to essentially be a serial killer. Even though he seems like a likeable guy, it’s difficult to get past that he’s also a murderer, regardless of the rationale for his actions.
Writer/director Justin McConnell makes the right choice in keeping the man’s real identity restricted to a voice as he doesn’t so much possess his victims as fully become them by physically shapeshifting and stealing their identities. This is a high quality, low budget picture that relies on the skills of its actors to convey this unique, tethered consciousness across characters. Save for some practical, convincing props, the special effects are fairly limited until the conclusion. That said, expensive CGI transformations may have added to the film, but not necessarily made it better since the “how” is not as important as the “why.”
The movie is a solid genre picture that combines sci-fi and some twisted form of romance, but it’s truly made by the ending that calls into question everything that preceded it and gives the title an additional meaning. Empathy is a hard sell in this picture and the final moments really hammer that home.
Director: Justin McConnell
Starring: Lora Burke, Jack Foley and Bill Oberst Jr.
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