250 bucks. That*s how much “The Changers”, a “suspense filled Sci-Fi action horror film with comedy and lots of action” (or so the box describes it), film was made for. Two things immediately stick out about the production: 1. The amount of fun the crew was having while making the film. 2. $250 does not appear to be enough money to support this sci-fi action horror film with comedy and lots of action.
It’s not so much that the budget itself was the problem but the way in which the money was used. “The Changers” starts off confusing and gets worse as it progresses. Reporters Steve (Jeremy King) and Sherry (Suzy Devore, who*s characters name in the credits is Suzy despite the fact she has been called Sherry throughout the film!) stumble onto an alien invasion plot involving bug eyed mutants, covert government ops and killer teddy bears. While the incorporation of these various plot threads is interesting, no real attempt is ever made to link them together.
During one point a group of Steve*s friends and fellow reporters find themselves being killed off one by one in a military installation overtaken by aliens. This is inter cut with Steve and Sherry on the run from government agents sent to kill them and a minor character introduced towards the beginning being murdered by a stuffed animal controlled by the invaders. Between shootouts, a love story and an irritating last minute twist one wishes that Blake Fitzpatrick had cut down on the story threads so that the film would have had a much stronger cohesion. A satire on the Beanie Baby craze using killer teddy bears is a witty idea but needs to be drawn out more.
There are plenty of successful horror features that have succeeded in the face of lower budgets such as the films of Val Lewton or “The Blair Witch Project”. Whereas these films tended to shy away from blatantly showing the audience supernatural apparitions, leaving the true horrors up to the audience, “The Changers” seems to flaunt the fact that the monsters that appear to be actors in shoddy rubber masks are indeed actors in shoddy rubber masks. There is an audacity to this approach that is to be commended but the charm only works for so long. The suspension of disbelief grows harder and harder as the film continually goes out of its way to inform the audience “I was made for under three hundred dollars!”. Part of the problem is this film wants the gory parts to be truly shocking, for example one of Steve*s associates having his leg ripped off, but the budget consistently betrays the actions being depicted. Compare this approach to “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” where the no budget effects were played for laughs to a much stronger effect.
“The Changers” clips along at a breakneck pace and is a fun ride while it lasts, it just seems as though with a tighter script the amount of energy put into the film could have paid off in a much more rewarding manner. As with Jim McCullough, the director of indie epic “Ekho: Fall of an Empire”, Blake Fitzpatrick is loaded with ideas but in his next outing may want to try a story idea that can work within his limited funds.