Sonya Walger and Hayley Erin play cat and mouse in unrelenting thriller New Life

Director and writer John Rosman proves he's one to watch in this intense and efficient thriller.
New Life - Brainstorm Media
New Life - Brainstorm Media /

In an era where watching pandemic movies has mostly fallen out of favor due to the nightmare comparison to reality, it's hard to find a movie that reflects modern times without either hitting you over the head with a message or simply being too on the nose to enjoy from a distance. Enter John Rosman's New Life, a searing and intimate portrayal of two women on opposite sides, both held captive by their own bodies in different ways.

Part spy thriller and part horror movie, New Life is a harrowing and brutal story adept at reeling you in with its insistent sense of building trepidation and unease before going full throttle, unrelenting in its climactic third act both for viewers and the characters at its center.

Jessica Murdock (Hayley Erin) is on the run when we first meet her and she stays that way throughout the movie, always with a harried look on her face as she runs from one traumatic incident to the next. But New Life is clever in how much it gives away about Jessica. We know she's running from something and we know that professional fixer Elsa Gray (Sonya Walger) is tasked with hunting her down—for what purpose, the film doesn't share until halfway through.

New Life - Brainstorm Media /

Yet it's the stark differences in Erin and Walger's performances that keep you on tenterhooks as the film steadily builds the suspense and leads you toward a terrifying apocalyptic crescendo bolstered by Walger's steely-eyed fortitude. Rosman deftly captures intimate moments of both quiet strength and very human moments of weakness. Though Jessica and Elsa might be at odds with one another, their unyielding fortitude creates a kinship in them.

It's hard to go into too much detail about what New Life is about because so much of the film hinges on the masterful tension-building and eventual payoff. What you really need to know is that when the pieces start falling into place, it's a genuine fright as the real world parallels make themselves all too apparent. Dehumanization is at the forefront of this movie in unsettling ways and the worst part is recognizing those haunting facets of reality reflected back at us as the story unfolds.

New Life - Brainstorm Media /

I haven't seen Erin in much apart from Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, but her performance here sticks to you like glue. It's hard to shake off her evocative facial expressions, that outward vulnerability contrasting perfectly with Walger's more restrained yet equally brilliant work.

Tightly paced with a runtime of just over 80 minutes, perfectly cast, and dynamically executed by Rosman in his feature directorial debut, New Life depicts a nail-biting, vicious, cat-and-mouse game that exemplifies the old parable of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

New Life will be released in select theaters on Friday, May 3 and it will also be available on demand the same day. New Life will also be released in UK theaters beginning June 8.

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