Drew is a serial killer by necessity; he’s a unique type of shapeshifter forced to kill and assume another’s body every time his current body begins to show signs of decay. He doesn’t just suck his victims’ bodies dry until they’re withered husks but assumes their memories and personalities as well, making him an efficient killer that’s difficult to track. It’s a gruesome way to live made further complicated by Drew’s yearning for Julia, a woman he fell in love with while in a different body. Julia has no idea who the real Drew is, or even that he’s still in her life. A fast-paced crime thriller, Lifechanger also brings body horror to the fold.
Written and directed by Justin McConnell, Lifechanger sets its story around an antihero. From the opening moments, we’re introduced to Drew’s modus operandi as he kills a woman he’s just slept with and assumes her persona. He’s ruthless and quick in his kills, and the deaths look as painful as they are grotesque. McConnell drops us in the middle of Drew’s story, parceling out details of his journey by way of inner monologue. Genre vet Bill Oberst Jr. (Resolution, 3 From Hell) is the inner voice of Drew, giving some semblance of age while his victims are varied in gender, lifestyle, and age. It’s a jarring juxtaposition; the different personas, voices, and appearances of each new body against Drew’s older voiceover narration makes it a little trickier to get a sense of who the true Drew really is. It doesn’t help that the pacing doesn’t give much time to acclimate to Drew, either.
There’s a very fast pace to Lifechanger, as Drew’s new bodies seem to decay faster and faster, and his yearning for Julia leads to a much easier trail for the police to pick up. It’s so swift moving that it makes it difficult to find somewhere in the narrative to grab hold of. The story is through Drew’s perspective, but it’s the center of his fixation that’s the most relatable; Julia. She’s a broken woman often found at a local bar, still reeling from being abandoned by her previous love. The sole character not part of Drew’s body stealing, she’s the only one that feels remotely developed. That’s not saying much either. This is Drew’s story, but he doesn’t have many answers for the viewer.
Drew’s constant need to murder and flee becomes repetitive after a while, but the body horror effects are great. With special makeup effects designed by David Scott (2004’s Dawn of the Dead, The Shrine, Pyewacket), the body horror of Drew’s life is the highlight of the film. The story may not end in satisfactory fashion, but from a visual standpoint it absolutely delivers.
McConnell introduces a fascinating concept; the antihero desperate for a love that might be his very undoing. It’s well shot and delivers on gooey, slimy practical effects. It might be a little too fast-paced, though; as the tragic love story at the heart of the film is never given much time for the emotional beats to fully resonate. The rules laid out contradict the trajectory of Drew’s story at almost every turn; his voice indicates age and wisdom but he’s clearly learned nothing. And by the end of the film, neither have we.