Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by John Rosman.
Starring Hayley Erin, Sonya Walger, Tony Amendola.
Horror, US, 85 minutes.


Reviewed as part of Pigeon Shrine FrightFest 2023


Strange signs started to appear on the lampposts, windows and walls around Leicester Square on the morning that NEW LIFE was due to have its European premiere at FrightFest. “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS DOG?” was the pleading, urgent message underneath a fuzzy black and white snapshot of a friendly-looking creature alongside a telephone number where you would listen to a mysterious and ominous message that seemed to suggest this dog could be bad news if you crossed paths with it. The meaning behind this mysterious canine-related subterfuge came to light when director John Rosman owned up to placing these signs in a cheeky example of guerrilla marketing for his sci-fi horror hybrid debut.


How these flyers tie into the film is best left unexplained, as is the main plot. This film reveals its mysteries gradually, highly satisfying and effectively. The opening shot of an unnamed woman walking hurriedly down a back alley with a blood-smeared face before breaking into what appears to be her own house is an arresting enough opener. Moments later, when a group of highly organised-looking men with guns arrive, the hooks have dug in even deeper to the viewer’s attention. From here, the film unfolds in a clever and gripping manner that will push the button for many genre fans as it neatly melds together a number of familiar genre elements in new and exciting ways.


This confident debut signals a promising career for writer and director John Rosman. There are familiar elements at play, which I will not go into spoiling here, but Rosman brings a fresh point of view to proceedings here. In particular, the character of Elsa, a tough, no-nonsense fixer brought in to track down the mysterious woman at the heart of matters here, is given a particularly fresh spin on her character, not least by Sonya Walger’s brittle yet vulnerable performance, especially when Elsa’s own particular problems are brought to the forefront turning the film into a joint character piece.


Through Rosman’s keen eye, other character and genre tropes are also given a fresher, more fleshed-out spin. The result is a more emotionally affecting film than is usual in this particular genre. At the same time, there is also a propulsive strain running throughout that carries a sense of dread as a number of characters succumb to the cruel fate brought upon them through no fault of their own.


An exciting debut on several levels, NEW LIFE deserves to find an audience, and Rosman deserves to find more opportunities to display his own slick and affecting storytelling style. Low in budget but high in ambition it succeeds admirably without pulling any punches. Go in as blind as you can without spoilers and expect to be surprised, entertained and disturbed in a number of ways.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans