In his most assured and arguably best film yet, Lifechanger finds director Justin McConnell taking his craft to a whole new level. Following his previous feature, Broken Mile, with another high concept thriller; McConnell’s film manages to make one not only sympathize with an unlikely serial killer, but also feel for the romantic plight that motivates him.
The killer in this case is a shapeshifter whose body is unexpectedly deteriorating faster than it has in the past. To sustain itself the creature must drain the life out of its victims and become that individual, including retaining the victim’s memories. Jumping from gender to gender, and willing to do anything to maintain its secret, the one constant in the being’s life seems to be Julia (Lora Burke). Frequenting a local bar, Julia does not realize that there is a dangerous creature stalking her.
Considering that one of the central characters in Lifechanger frequently changes it appearance and demeanour, it is important to have actors who can sell each new person the shapeshifter becomes. McConnell’s film pulls this off swimmingly as each actor, regardless of whether they are playing a nurse (Rachel VanDuzer) resisting her married boss’ advances or a charming guy at a bar (Jack Foley) who catches Julia’s heart, is convincing in their given roles. They effortless convey both the suspense and moments of dark humour, such as when the shapeshifter seeks cocaine as it will help its body rot faster.
A surprising aspect of the film is the way McConnell’s script makes one care for both the creature and Julia. There is a darkly romantic undertone flowing throughout. Thanks in part to Lora Burke’s layered performance, proving the immense talent she displayed in Poor Agnes was no fluke, Lifechanger feels much richer than a simple tale of obsession. Like an ageless vampire who is forced to watch the world change before its eyes, there is an inherent sadness to the creature’s plight.
Taking his filmmaking to the next level, even the body horror special effects pop, McConnell’s Lifechanger is a rousing thriller that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.