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  • Rev Horror

New Life

Dir. John Rosman (2023)

A woman on the run from a shadowy government agency tries desperately to make it across the border into Canada, but things might not be quite as they appear.

In a "post"-pandemic world, there are two trains of thought when it comes to films about the apocalypse, at least those caused by some form of superbug: it's either scary as hell because we almost lived through it, or it's not scary at all for the exact same reason. These types of films can also feel fairly frustrating at times depending on how they are handled. It feels like it's all been done before, partially because, again, we've all lived through it at this point, and also because it's been a large focus in a number of different film genres over the past few years. Even the films that aren't about COVID are filmed under the restrictions, often limiting scenes to one-to-two actors in a room or showing the characters in a remote setting. When a film does a good job with all of these aspects, however, it can be really good, and New Life absolutely knocks this part of it out of the park.

Jessica (Hayley Erin) is on the run, being hunted as she treks across America trying to get to the Canadian border to escape what she believes is prosecution for the murder of her boyfriend. On her tail is Elsa (Sonya Walger), trying to track her down on behalf of a government agency that is trying to prevent her escape. Elsa is dealing with her own demons, having recently been diagnosed with ALS and trying to make a difference before she inevitably loses control of her body. The cat-and-mouse game escalates continually, leading to an eventual showdown between the two as circumstances beyond their control builds to a fever pitch.

New Life is an excellent film, and it's really difficult to discuss it too much without spoiling a lot of the film. Hell, even the tags that I'm going to put on the film will likely ruin some of the surprise, so if you're one who doesn't want to know the twist, maybe don't check those out. The whole thing is exceptionally tense, with everything from the nuanced performances of the actors involved to the heightening score helping to build the crescendo of anxiety until its eventual, shattering conclusion. The twist is massive and exceptionally well-done, and it's one that I didn't see coming at all and that completely changes the complexion of the film.

Erin and Walger are fantastic in their roles, both portraying really deep characters who have experienced more than their fair share of loss, and the play between Walger's illness and Erin's is handled with subtle brilliance. The scenery is beautiful, portraying the world in a greyscale, dreary cinematography that works perfectly for the type of film that this is. The writing, while a bit stilted at times during the dialogues featuring the government, works very well for the type of film that this is. The direction, likewise, does a great job of keeping the audience in the dark until it can no longer be avoided, providing a lightbulb moment that makes you see the entire film in a different light.

I honestly didn't have any idea what the film was about going in, and that's probably the best way to head into this film. As such, I won't spoil it anymore here, but suffice to say that this is definitely a film that you'll want to check out. It's hard to categorize it as a straight-up horror, while it is still very horrific. It's an understated sledgehammer to the guts, and I haven't seen a film done quite like this one. For an indie film, it's just about the best production values that you'll find, and it's one that you definitely can't miss.

Who this movie is for: Cat-and-mouse thriller fans, Apocalyptic horror aficionados, Animal lovers

Bottom line: I highly recommend giving this one a watch, especially if you're a fan of films like Contagion or Outbreak. I hate that that gives away a little bit of the plot, but you'll likely figure that out before too long anyway. New Life is indie horror done right, and while it's a slow-burn that may struggle to hold some of its audience's attention at times, it's phenomenally well-done. Give this one a look.

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