Barbara Crampton is fondly remembered by horror fans of a certain age for her many topless scenes in Re-Animator and her rather fetching bondage getup in From Beyond. She’s also a really fine actress, overlooked until a recent comeback, appearing in a string of quirky, stylish low-budget horror films, starting with 2011’s You’re Next.
In Replace, she plays a doctor who offers skin grafts to a young woman, Kira, who has two big problems going on in her life: number one, she can’t remember anything; two, her skin is apparently aging at an impossible rate. The first problem is a bit of a lazy cliché, allowing the writers to hide predictable reveals. The other of Kira’s problems is a doozy. When Kira’s grafts begin to deteriorate, she must find new skin donors – not necessarily willing ones. This allows not only for some fine body horror, showcasing top-notch special effects makeup, but also allowing director Norbert Keil to deliver a smart, feminism-infused commentary on aging and beauty standards (this is undermined a little by the fact that Crampton, at 60, is still more beautiful than her 29-year-old co-star, Rebecca Forsythe).
Keil, a German director delivering his first English-language picture, is clearly talented, taking a well-trodden sci-fi horror premise – there are shades of Cronenberg, and Vincenzo Natali – but he and cinematographer Tim Peter Kuhn bringing it to life with not only a thoughtful message, but also some wit, style and, to put it simply, a good eye.
Replace is now available on DVD and Digital.