Fantasia International Film Festival Exclusive: Norbert Keil’s Feature Film Debut, Replace
By Rob DiLauro
Fantasia International Film Festival is now in full swing in Montreal, Canada. If you are not familiar with Fantasia it is simply one of the largest independent and major industry film events showcasing all styles of movies and filmmakers from all over the globe. The Festival has a bit of everything, and is a veritable cavalcade of the latest in modern day cinema. We begin our coverage of the films being shown with the feature film debut from German director Norbert Keil, Replace. The film stars Rebecca Forsythe, Lucie Aron, and the great queen of horror, Barbara Crampton. Incidentally, Rebecca is the daughter of the incredible character actor William Forsythe, but she definitely holds her own in this role.
Replace is the story of Kira Mabon, a young woman who we are introduced to when she seems to be following an older man named Jonas (played by actor Sean Knopp) home for a one night stand. As they enter his apartment they head to his bedroom and she wakes up the next day only to discover that she is alone and the man who she was with the night before is gone. After dressing, Kira leaves the building only to receive a phone call instructing her to come home, and she somehow ends up right back in front of Jonas’s apartment. She reenters, and is introduced to her neighbor Sofia played by Lucie Aron who exudes plenty of charm even when she unintentionally says things that are a bit offcolor to Kira when it comes to her condition that will be detailed shortly.
Kira discovers through Lucie that the apartment belonging to the mystery man has always been hers. This immediately prompts the idea that she has suffered some form of head trauma, if that were the only thing she had to contend with. When Kira enters her brightly illuminated bathroom she discovers a layer of what appears to be dead skin across two of her fingers. When she attempts to peel it from her flesh that is when the horror elements begin and quickly kick into high gear for the entire film. Kira goes back to Lucie who makes a few snide remarks that hurt Kira’s feelings but she asks her to keep her company anyway. Lucie urges Kira to see a specialist, and that is when an incredible but somewhat mysterious performance begins with Barbara Crampton as Dr. Rafaela Crober.
Kira enters her large, almost futuristic office and goes through a few tests. She is instructed by Crober that she needs to relax while a sample of this strange skin decomposition goes through analysis. When Kira returns home her fears are realized when the white, scaly takeover begins to spread up her arm and onto her shoulder. Although she is frightened Lucie is by her side to continue to comfort her. When the two decide to have a few glasses of wine Kira swings her glass hard against Lucie’s causing it to smash against the carpet, injuring her newfound friend in the process. Kira looks upon the fragments on the floor discovering a small piece of Lucy’s flesh, and something compels her to place it on her flaking, dead tumor only to discover that the skin from Lucie heals the small portion. This gives the film’s seemingly innocent victim an idea: to pay a visit to a hospital during the late evening and test her theory of regeneration in the morgue area. Certain scenes that follow are exactly what true grit horror fans ache for, but to give anymore away at this point would sully the experience for viewers.
Kira’s morality is tested for the sake of her own wellbeing, and she goes to great lengths for her own salvation, only to lose her own in the same instance.
There are other secrets within the film as well. And although this does have quite a few horror elements this is more of a science fiction drama with a thematic bombshell that will not only shock but surprise quite a few who sit down for Keil’s beautifully shot vision.
It is also at its core a love story, but one that has many consequences and its own element of shock that will not be addressed in this review.
Forsythe and Aron shine and have a very realistic take on their emotions when it comes to the situation contained within the mysterious story, as well as with each other.
Barbara Crampton is once again at the top of her game, and without giving too much away she is a character that no one would ever expect. Many remember her from cult classics like Chopping Mall and Re-Animator, but since returning to independent horror she has proven that she is her own woman, who has a presence and a supreme talent that can never be denied. Crampton is one of the most important actors in our modern day industry and always commands the roles she is given.
Replace is not your typical genre film, it is a terrifying but also surreal journey involving the heart, morality, and the extremes we will go to as human beings to stay young and vibrant.
This is also in essence a small ensemble film, consisting of three women who truly give everything to their roles and are very successful. The haunting score is definitely one of the major highlights of the movie, and as stated before there are moments of gore to keep horror fans glued to this multifaceted tale.
Replace is a gem among so many other copycat films in any genre fans have available today and will hopefully be a fan favorite, forever youthful through constant viewing and adoration. It deserves to be forever young, and is definitely worth your time.
More Fantasia International News, Reviews, and Inteviews coming soon.