LA Film Festival Review: ‘Replace’ Shows The Cost of Beauty is a Pound of Flesh
Imagine if your body’s largest organ began to fail. How far would you go to preserve it? What sacrifices would you be willing to make? These are just a few of the questions that are explored in the new indie horror-thriller Replace, from Director Norbert Keil. Rebecca Forsythe plays Kira Mabon, a woman who is suffering from a condition where her skin is rapidly aging, drying out and peeling away from her body. She soon discovers that she has the ability to replace her dying skin with the skin from someone else. We see Mira struggle with the decision of allowing herself to wither away or to fight this illness, regardless of the cost.
This film ensnared me within the first few minutes. Keil opens with a mixture of surreal imagery and events that are out of sequence. The audience is briefly left in a state of confusion, much like Rebecca Forsythe’s Kira is on screen. For me, this created an immediate connection with Kira and I was excited to see where the film was going to take her. Forsythe’s stellar performance had me feeling sorry for her one minute, happy for her the next, and then completely horrified by her actions. I was absolutely riveted for the entire movie. The audience is kept guessing at what is going on with Kira and what she is going to do next. My jaw actually dropped when the truth was finally revealed.
Veteran actress, Barbara Crampton, also stars in the film as Dr. Rafaela Crober, the specialist trying to help Kira. Crampton is absolutely chilling in this role and I loved her in every scene she was in. She got more screen time than I thought she might which was a welcome surprise. Many times indie films will feature an icon line Barbara to draw in the fans to the film only to have her appear for a few minutes. Not only is this not the case with Crampton, her character’s part grows as the film moves along. I also want to mention Lucie Aron who plays Sophia Demeraux. Sophia is Kira’s neighbor who tries to help Kira deal with her condition. I loved her scenes with Forsythe. The two played off of each other well and have some very powerful scenes together.
Replace has a very Euro-horror feel to it. There are some scenes where a soft focus is used to give a scene a sensual, intimate feeling while other scenes are filled with a rich, red colored light reflecting the dark emotion Kira is feeling as she decides to take someone’s skin.
The makeup effects in this film are outstanding. From Kira’s skin drying out to the more gory scenes, all looked realistic and not overdone. There is some nudity in the film but none of it felt exploitative. Replace is very well paced. It never felt slow or dull, even when there was no action going on. There was an atmosphere of tension surrounding Kira as she scrambled to find a cure.
Beauty and body image are continuously a hot topic in our culture and Replace manages to take both head on. It is thought provoking, tantalizing, heartbreaking, and downright scary at times. There are no jump scares or strange killers in masks. There is just a person who is willing to pay a pound of flesh to preserve her beauty, regardless of where that flesh may come from. I highly recommend this indie gem.