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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 08.04.17] Germany horror

It should come as no surprise that the concept behind Replace is rather brilliant; it does come from the brain of master Richard Stanley. The movie stars Rebecca Forsythe as Kira, a musician whose skin begins to age abnormally quickly beginning with her finger and quickly spreading through the rest of her body. At the same time, she also begins to lose a grip on her memory.

Through a rather ridiculous set of circumstances, Kira discovers that her body will accept new skin to replace her aging one and so she turns into a killer, skinning her victims to replace her skin with theirs.

Neat-o right?

Though it starts well, Replace goes off the rails pretty quickly and never manages to recover. The movie's major problem is the fact that there's simply too much going on. The skin aging idea at the core of the story is more than enough to sustain the movie but instead, it is muddled down with all of these other less interesting ideas - namely the memory loss storyline. Instead of supporting the central concept, this just confuses the plot to the point where half way in, I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on and what's worse still, I didn't really care to find out.

Replace isn't helped by the fact that many of the performances are terrible. Though Forsythe has some great moments, she seems as lost in the performance as the audience is in the movie and the supporting cast, particularly Luci Aron as Kira's neighbour and friend Sophia, is totally flat. So much so I was surprised to discover this isn't her first role; she comes across as if she's just reading her lines for the first time. The one highlight is Barbara Crampton as the doctor; the former soap star has been making stand-out appearances in mediocre horror movies for a while.

The fact the film's credits include a script translator may have a large role to play in how confusing the plot is and account for the mediocre performances.

Replace isn't a complete waste of time. It features a great score from Franco Tortora and Tom Batoy, and though it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I did really enjoy the parts of the story relating to the skin aging and how Kira deals with it. Writer/director Norbert Keil has a great aesthetic and the movie looks good. He also has an eye for capturing the gruesome with a strange delicacy; the skinning scenes are visceral but oddly beautiful as well.

Though I didn't care for it, I'd love to see a trimmed down version of Replace that leaves out the nonsense and focuses exclusively on the central concept. This is not that movie.

Recommended Release: Martyrs

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