top of page

[Review]: New Life

Writer-director John Rosman’s feature New Life is a fresh and emotive spin on a often-times stale horror sub-genre. The film plays out a cat and mouse game between troubled agent Elsa (Sonya Walger) who has been tasked with hunting down the desperate Jess (Hayley Erin) as she attempts to cross the border into Canada from the United States. With vibes of Into The Wild (2007) meets Contagion (2011), New Life explores the lives at the centre of a potential threat to global safety.

New Life opens with Jess covered in blood, running for her freedom as she is pursued by agents. Put in charge of her capture is the recently diagnosed Elsa who has ALS, a degenerative disease that affects motor skills and breathing. Desperate to prove her ability to still achieve at work, Elsa pushes herself to the extremes in order to bring in Jess. As Jess’ journey progresses further North, those she comes into contact with are infected with a condition that initially presents as flu-like symptoms, but soon evolves into something much worse. 

Whereas the majority of outbreak films centre primarily around an inevitable global tragedy, New Life is very much centred around it’s two female central characters. Both Elsa and Jess are two women whose bodies are at odds with their own psychological autonomy. Elsa is coming to terms with how her body will affect her life, whereas Jess is coming to the realisation how her body affects those that surround her and choose to help her through this transitional time in her life. Transition is perhaps one of the most important themes in New Life reflected in the liminal space of the landscape, which shines through as not just a setting in the film, but also echoes both characters' state of mind as their bodies begin to change and cause change around them. As the film progresses and the two characters' stories collide, we are presented with the depiction of each woman representing both hope and despair. The performances of Sonya Walger and Hayley Erin are played with a nuanced and quiet strength, drenched in sadness. 

As the horror aspect of New Life is introduced in the third act, it has the potential to feel unnatural and forced amongst the quiet emotion of the first two thirds, however it manages to slip in effortlessly with shocking and horrifying results as audiences come to realise the inevitability of our two central characters’ fates. Whilst New Life isn’t anything wildly invigorating in the pandemic subgenre of horror, character study of a patient zero and the ailing woman tasked to hunt her down does vastly set it apart from its contemporaries. 

4 Screams out of 5

New Life is now available on Digital Download.


bottom of page