Fantasia 2023 Review: NEW LIFE, Debut Horror Thriller Forever Linked to Our Current Times

Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
Fantasia 2023 Review: NEW LIFE, Debut Horror Thriller Forever Linked to Our Current Times
Jessica is on the run and Elsa is dead set on finding her. With a group of techno wizards supporting her Elsa sticks to the backcountry and rural roads, confident that Jessica is trying to stay out of sight. Jessica cannot reach the border or all hope will be lost. Jessica thinks she is running away from a murder charge. 
If she only knew the truth. 
The chase is a challenging one for our fixer Elsa. Not only is she looking for a needle in a haystack she is hobbled by a bad leg. This is all part of a prevailing issue that will have distressing long-term effects. Elsa’s prognosis is grounded while the other mysterious cause for everyone’s alarm would have been more fantastical in another time. 
John Rosman’s debut feature film, New Life, is a tight horror thriller that resonates with our current times and should do so for years to come. New Life is one of those ‘the less you know’ types of horror thrillers. Through the omniscience of the narrative, we learn something is awry though Jessica is still unaware. And it is best to leave you, the reader, unaware as well so that you may appreciate the rapid development and get caught up in that urgency that Elsa and her team feel. 
Rosman has an underlying subtext of relationships running throughout his film. Jessica comes across an elderly couple on their rural homestead and a small-town bar owner Molly. They are on the opposite ends of the relationship spectrum. One relationship has been going on forever and ever, the other was leaving an abusive one. Even one of Elsa’s tech wizards Vince makes small talk with her about his marriage. Through flashbacks, we get Jessica’s backstory, her relationship with her boyfriend Ian, and learn of the events that have led us to this race against time. The subtext is important because empathy along this spectrum of relationships leads to more chances of emotional attachment to the cast of characters
At a point of Rosman’s choosing he turns up the volume and begins to use horror to increase urgency and inject energy into his narrative. These changes in energy are rapid, disruptive, and horrific - maybe even an announcement from Rosman that they would also be happy doing straight-up horror flicks late on. Here however they are most effective because they are at first unexpected but then key in maintaining the deadline before we have met the point of no return. 
Trying to avoid ruining the main drive for finding Jessica before she reaches the border, New Life is a horror thriller inextricably connected to our current time. The story concludes with a final shot that sums up our contemporary mindset. Elsa’s short-term and immediate fear outweighs the long-term certainty of impending disability just as our long-term worries have been replaced with short-term ones.
Worth checking out, for sure. 
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