One of the first films I watched for the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival was LIFECHANGER from Toronto filmmaker Justin McConnell (Skull World, Minutes Past Midnight).
I made a bit of a reviewing faux pas by reading the synopsis of the film first, which I typically try not to do, but I think in this case it helped me out a little bit. I read the description on FanstasiaFest.com and though “Oh, you know what, this kind of reminds me of The Hidden” which if you’ve kept up with any of my reviews, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of that particular Jack Sholder masterpiece. While the film shares a small bit of thematic similarities with The Hidden, I am happy to say that it is also incredibly different.
The film starts out with a naked woman in bed, her chest covered in blood. If that doesn’t sell the film to most horror fans right away, then I guess you can keep reading the review. Anyways, we soon find out that our protagonist, who’s real name we don’t find out until almost the end of the film, is a bit of a shape-shifter. We keep up with his thoughts and feelings through voice-over, but his appearance is almost always different, and I mean very different. With all the changes that are constantly happening to our poor protagonist, there are a few constants; the Monarch Tavern, an adorable Australian shepherd that always knows our protagonist despite his (or her) appearance or name at the time, and most importantly, Julia (Lora Burke; Poor Agnes). Our multi-faceted protagonist seems to know and love Julia, but how? The answer will surprise you.
Most of us know that a truly good horror movie is often a parable that can be directly applied to real life situations that aren’t as fantastic as the ones in the film. Take any George Romero or David Cronenberg film, for example. LIFECHANGER fits this bill as well and can be added to the pantheon of horror films that tell great stories. It is a brilliant parable about how guilt can transform us into people we don’t even recognize, and that overcoming that guilt, through difficult, is imperative, and can also be transformative, whether we like it or not.
Justin McConnell weaves a great modern-day fairy tale with our many-faced protagonist, and I hope that LIFECHANGER‘s World Premiere at Fantasia Fest is met with as much enthusiasm as I have for the film.