REPLACE: This film is very original in style and substance and a real treat for horror fans. A woman with a bizarre skin condition that won’t let her cells regenerate. Rebecca Forsythe both stars and produces this modern sci-fi/ horror thriller. Forsythe plays Kira Mabon, a woman who has a disease that is causing her flesh to dry up and age at an alarming rate. The condition also causes Kira memory loss problems that she starts to notice when she meets Sophie (played by Luice Aron), a woman who lives next door to her, but Kira can’t remember her. That evening while Kira and Sophie are sharing wine, Sophie’s glass breaks. As Kira rushes to clean up the broken glass, she finds a piece of Sophie’s skin mixed with the glass. Something about seeing the skin makes Kira want to put it on over the decaying parts of her own skin like a band-aid. The skin immediately bounds with Kira’s own and starts to give her new flesh. Kira realizes she can take the living skin of other women and use it to replace her own flesh.
Sophie next calls attention to a doctor’s card on Kira’s coffee table for a Dr. Rafaela Crober with an appointment date that Kira seems to have missed. When Kira goes there, she learns that Crober, played by horror movie legend Barbara Crampton, as been treating Kira for her skin disorder for some time.
Deciding that Crober isn’t helping, Kira goes in search of new skin to replace her own. At first, she tries using the skin of dead people in the morgue, but it doesn’t work and Kira realizes that she needs flesh from the living or very recently deceased to make her self-transplants work. Kira begins abducting women and taking their skin to save herself.
When she starts to find more mementos of her past that she can’t remember, Kira and Sophie go in search of Kira’s past and that’s when the story really kicks into high gear as Kira realizes that Crober wants the secret to how Kira can self-transplant other people’s skin onto her own. In some ways, Kira comes across as a science fiction version of the infamous serial killer, Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614). A woman who was so obsessed with staying young, she would kidnap younger women and bathe in their blood. Forsythe is amazing as she leads the movie through a disturbing ride that askes us: “What would any of us do to stay young and alive?”
I also felt like Kira was like a female version of Leatherface, the idea of killing people to wear their skins. Only in this case, Kira needs it to live, Leatherface just wanted to wear it in an attempt to become a woman. Women as horror movie monsters is nothing new, but not since Dracula’s Daughter in 1936, has there been a female movie monster that has been as complex and engaging as Forsythe’s Kira. It’s hard to hate her and yet at the same time feel disturbed at what she’s doing.
Barbara Compton is also fun to watch. Most fans remember her best as Megan from the 80’s horror classic The Reanimator. The scene that stands out for most of us is the one where she’s tied to an autopsy table while David Gale has his way with her. But in Replace, Compton is the mad scientist and she plays the part disturbingly well.
Director Norbert Keil and his co-writer Richard Stanley weave a complex and engaging story with Replace. Although at times it feels like this should be two different movies, but like Kira’s skin crafts, the plot lines blend together in the end. Forsythe carries this movie over the finish line and delivers a performance horror movie fans won’t soon forget.
Overall review: A
REPLACE will feature at the 2017 Spooky Movie International Film Festival on Friday, October 6th, at 7:20pm EST.