This article was last modified on July 16, 2017.


Fantasia 2017 Film Review: “Replace”

Kira (Rebecca Forsythe)’s skin starts to age rapidly, dry out and crumble away. But then she discovers that she can replace her own skin with somebody else’s.

“Replace” is a film with an impeccable horror pedigree. Co-writer Richard Stanley is something of a legend with his films “Hardware”, “Dust Devil” and the ill-fated “Island of Dr. Moreau”. Co-star Barbara Crampton needs no introduction, wowing audiences since her time as a Stuart Gordon regular. And star Rebecca Forsythe adds a multi-generational aspect to the mix: she is the daughter of genre favorite William Forsythe. Horror fans will be thrilled to see her continue the family tradition.

The film’s imagery starts off hazy and is somewhat disorienting for viewers, which may be mildly annoying. Relax, however, as this effect quickly subsides and the need for such an introduction becomes understandable as the plot unfolds. You may say, “I thought this was a film about skin, not memory loss.” But be assured that all your questions will be answered.

And you will have questions, because the film is scripted very elaborately with multiple twists. Some of these will be obvious in retrospect, some much less so. This plays into the film’s subtle brilliance, because once you think you outsmarted the filmmakers, be prepared to accept where they take the story next. This is a multi-layered onion with a treasure at its core.

“Replace” is a film all its own and defies comparisons. Some of the bloodier scenes might evoke thoughts of “Eat”, and the idea of fighting against the aging process may call to mind Debbie Rochon’s “Model Hunger”. But “Replace” bears less than a passing resemblance to either of them, and far surpasses them both (with all due respect to Ms. Rochon). Very rarely is any film ever completely “new”, but “Replace” manages to pull it off.

The film in general is quite strong, with excellent performances from Forsythe and the supporting cast. Crampton’s cold, emotionally-distant doctor is a bit off-putting, but considering that is exactly who her character is supposed to be, she nailed it. A special note of praise must be reserved for the set designers. Presumably, the film had a modest budget, but you would never know this from the use of spacious apartments and a very cleverly-constructed medical facility. This is filmmaking with heart.

“Replace” screens on July 16, 2017 at the Fantasia International Film Festival and is certain to be a fan favorite. Produced by our friends at Sparkling Pictures and directed by Norbert Keil, be sure to check it out.

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