Review by Bears Fonte

The opening fifteen minutes of REPLACE, a SciFi thriller screening as part of Fantasia, promises a film filled with plot twists, thematic depth, and sparkling cinematography.  Kira (Rebecca Forsythe) wakes up alone after a date, unable to remember how she got there the night before, and surprised that she has been abandoned.  When she walks home, she somehow ends up at the exact same apartment, where her keys fit the lock and she discovers pictures of herself.  But that’s not the worst of it – her finger and then her hand is slowly rotting away.

Unfortunately, REPLACE quickly degenerates into a slasher film, filled with endless minutes devoted to slicing the skin off other people to replace her own.  On top of that, the script is prone to giant leaps of plot that don’t follow the setup, as well as unsolved logic gaps so that unlike a film like Realiti or Time Lapse, where you can put it all together and it makes sense, there are moments that just add up.  For example, as Kira walks from one apartment (hers) to another apartment (hers – same apartment), what did she do, walk in a circle?  It seems to be setting up a much more interesting world and much more tightly constructed plot than it actually is.  And on that journey, she is talking about her boyfriend to supposedly her best friend, who seems to be telling her he’s a bad person… but later, when we find out the central twist, this conversation doesn’t even make sense.  Who is she talking to?

Okay spoilers…. Kira is actually in her late sixties, and has undergone a revolutionary treatment to de-age herself so she looks twenty again.  Ostensibly a film about image and our beauty-obsessed with society, REPLACE paints the most vapid and empty portrait of our lead character, reducing her to a mere killing machine only 20 minutes into the film.  We never really understand why her youth is so important to her, or if we do, it’s truly the most simplistic of reasoning ‘old = yech essentially.’  Then, about halfway through the film, the character realizes that her daughter must still be alive and older, and she has to see her.  So she barrels out to find her…. (pretty simply I would say) … and then sees her for one second and runs away.  And that’s the end of the plot point.  It has nothing to do with how the rest of the film plays out.  Its as if the writer thought – oh, yeah, she’s a woman, you know what women care about?  Their looks.  Oh, and also children.  SO let’s get that in there.

I can’t help but think REPLACE would have been a much stronger film if it had been written and/or directed by a woman.  Instead, co-writers Norbert Keil and Richard Stanley offer a film much like the lead character, pretty on the outside but basically an empty shell.  Barbara Crampton turns in a campy performance as the evil doctor behind it all, a character that might as well have been a cartoon.  The best turn actually comes from Lucie Aron as Kira’s neighbor-turned-lover, who does a fine job leaping through the massive sweeps of character the poorly constructed plot force her to manage.

I have a feeling this film will play at a number of genre festivals over the next six months, this sort of body horror plot matched with stills of sexy women always manages to draw a crowd, unfortunately there isn’t much to hold them there once they are seated.

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