DIRECTOR: Norbert Keil
J. David Hinze
When Kira's skin starts to age rapidly, she doesn't understand why. She discovers that she has been afflicted with a disease that dries out the flesh at an accelerated rate. It soon crumbles away at just one touch. After seeking help from a doctor, and running tests. Kira realises that if she takes the flesh of another human, and replaces it with her own, it may be her cure, but at what cost?
My first glimpse of Replace came in the form of an article from Bloody Disgusting. It was the poster art for the film. As soon as I had witnessed the poster for this movie, the film was moved up my 'must watch' list. I knew that I had to watch this one. The word of mouth that came out of several of the film festivals was all pretty positive. I was excited to see what this story was all about. It would be forever and a day until I finally got to watch it.
Replace is a film that blends science-fiction and body horror and for the most part, it is incredibly successful in doing so. I think it was one of the most original films that I got to witness in 2017. I believe that Norbert Keil may have been inspired by director David Cronenberg. Replace feels like it could be the love child of a Cronenberg movie. Even David's own son Brandon Cronenberg has started to walk in his dad's footsteps, and you can see that in his own stories. David created an entire subgenre of horror.
What works well in Replace is that the film goes for a more cerebral approach in the way that it slowly unfolds the horror. The movie for the first and second act features moments of body horror that do disturb. It's the way the story plays out that is most interesting. We witness a woman who is unsure of what's going on around her. Early on, we are just as confused as our lead character Kira after she wakes up from a one-night stand. Is Kira not all there? Things only get more surreal from that point on.
The film also features a rather lovely same-sex friendship/relationship between Kira and her next door neighbour, Sophia. I thought this was a rather nice touch. I also liked that the relationship also brought forward this tension. We never really know if Sophia is there for all the right reasons. With the early scenes that feature Kira in a state of confusion, we don't always know if everything we are seeing is real. I really did enjoy the chemistry between our two leading actresses. I believed the friendship in this film.
Visually, Replace is dreamlike. The way the film is shot is gorgeous. At times, it feels grounded in reality, the next, it almost feels like this could be set in the future. I like that we are never really sure when this movie is set precisely. It makes the story feel timeless in a way. I love that the film towards the second and third act becomes really clinical and cold once Kira starts going to her doctor in hopes of finding a cure for her flesh-rotting disease. I like the way the film slowly evolves that tone throughout the running time.
My biggest issue that I have with Replace is the pacing. At times, the movie is quite slow. This is slow-burn all the way up until the third act. This film almost feels poetic in its approach to the way it unravels the story. However, at times you can really feel that the story drags. It's not enough to completely ruin the movie for me, though. It is these slower moments that really make you appreciate that gory third act murder spree that Kira goes on in her act of revenge.
Is Replace Scary? No. I didn't find the movie scary or even suspenseful. This is more surreal in its approach to the horror. Nothing ever feels certain. We don't really know if everything we are witnessing is real. I believe what this movie sets out to do is try and disturb and get under your skin with its gore and violence. This isn't extreme by any means, but the body horror elements are sure to unnerve some viewers. If you feel queasy at the sight of bloodshed, skin peeling, or even murder. You'll find this one to be quite brutal.
Lastly, we come to the performances. I think the leading performance by Rebecca Forsythe is great. She is the daughter of acting legend William Forsythe. She really carries the film with the help of horror icon Barbara Crampton who is essentially the movie's villain. Their showdown in the laboratory in the third act is gleefully bloody. It's a battle of wits that ends in an almost slasher type of killing spree. I have seen others say that the ending is what sort of makes the story feel formulaic. I think its one of the more enjoyable moments.
DEATH TOLL: 9
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is seen peeling off dead flesh multiple times.
- A woman shoots herself in the head.
- A nurse is repeatedly stabbed in the neck with a scalpel.
- A woman is stabbed in the throat.
- A woman is stabbed in the neck with a needle.
- A woman is hit in the throat with a fire extinguisher.
- Two nurses are shot dead.
- A woman steps on broken glass.
- A woman is pushed over and cracks her head open on the concrete.
- A man is stabbed in the eye and face with a scalpel.
- A woman has her face smacked into a toilet bowl.
- A woman is strangled to death.
- A woman's throat is stepped on until she dies.
- The skin of a murdered woman is peeled off.
Replace is one of the more original horror films that I saw in 2017. While the movie has some pacing issues that drag some of the early and middle sections of the film down. It's not enough to kill how hypnotic this film is to watch. This almost feels like it casts this gruesome spell on you. Some great performances, excellent gore effects, and visually impressive. I could see this movie becoming a cult classic one day that is discussed alongside more prominent sci-fi horror.