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Review: Replace – “A thrilling psychological body horror”

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Replace is written and directed by Norbert Keil (Quartered at Dawn) and stars Rebecca Forsythe (The Bronx Bull), Lucie Aron (Berlin Syndrome) and Barbara Crampton (We Are Still Here, Beyond the Gates).

Kira (Forsythe) has an extremely strange night when she pulls a guy, goes home with him, and then wakes up the next day with not only a finger falling off, but to find herself living a completely new life with a severely damaged sense of time and a rapidly deteriorating memory. Luckily, her suspiciously-nice neighbour, Sophia (Aron), is there to reassure and console her, and the two quickly fall for each other as Kira continues to quite literally fall apart.

Kira’s Brundle-fly-ing gets so extreme that Sophia cajoles her into visiting a specialist, Doctor Crober (Crampton) for help, but the Doc merely sends some bits of her off for testing, tells her not to pick it or it won’t heal, and sends her on her way.

After an accident where she and Sophia are hurt with a glass bottle, Kira realises that if she places someone else’s skin onto to her decaying torso it is absorbed and the rotting area is replaced. With this new knowledge and a dire need for fresh flesh, Kira becomes a skin vampire: seducing and killing well-moisturised prey for fresh grafts. Meanwhile, Sofia desperately tries to keep her in check, and Doctor Crober continues to experiment and search for answers.

A thrilling psychological body horror with a throbbing synth wave score, Replace is disgusting disconcerting and will get under your skin – but it also contains a tender romance, some huge revelations, and a film-stealing performance from the incredibly reliably fantastic Barbara Crampton. Always eminently watchable, and quite clearly relishing every moment of her comeback, Crampton currently seems incapable of choosing a bad role or project.

Keil’s direction is fittingly clean and clinical and Cronenbergian, and also full of dazzling neon and sodium-lit scenes that rattle and impress. Rebecca Forsythe excels as someone having to come to terms with a chronic condition that is pushing her further away from her own humanity, as well as revelations that make her question motivations she didn’t know she even had until the memory just came back.

A nightmarish far out gross-out freak out knockout with top performances and a director-to-watch, Replace needs to go on your Need to See list immediately.

Replace is released in the UK on the 16th of October.

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