NEW LIFE (2023) Review by Steve Kirkham

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NEW LIFE (2023)

4 stars
Vertigo Releasing. Digital Download 3rd June

A desperate woman, Jessie (Hayley Erin), breathing heavily, bloodied face, seemingly afraid of something. She enters a house which she appears to be familiar with, using the key under a pot in the front. The house of her boyfriend? She washes up, revealing a black eye, and finds a change of clothes. She also finds an engagement ring hidden in a sock. No time to dwell on it as armed men have entered and she must carrying on running away – but from what or who?

We then meet Elsa Gray (Sonya Walger) who has a gun, affirmations on her window and a daily pill box with medication which she takes with resignation. She is exhibiting the early signs of what we later learn is the motor neuron disease ALS, which she is trying to keep secret as it will affect her job.

She works for some kind of clandestine organisation. A contract has come in which is already ‘spiralling out of control’ and they need their finest operative on the case, as the subject is en route to the border – ‘we can’t let her cross’ she is told. An operation swings into action to find Jessie with a back room tech team to try and find her – with Elsa out in the field in pursuit.

Meanwhile Jessie is trying to make her escape, hiding in the back of a pick-up truck, bedding down in a barn… with flashbacks to her crying in an empty dingy room. Caught stealing soup from an outhouse on a farm, instead of calling the police, the old couple that own the property take pity on her and help Jessie in her bid to get to the border.

But why has Elsa been given mission – has she been hired as she is the best or for darker reasons. What is happening with Jessie, why is she on the run? Are the two women connected in some way? Flashbacks begin to fill in the back story and build the mystery. Terrible things start to happen around Jessica – which I won’t reveal here. The script drip feeds revelations which gradually show what is really going on.

This is an efficiently told thriller with horror overtones – as things progress and more is revealed the story heads towards the inevitable finale with enough horror along the way to keep you gripped. Told in under 90 minutes, this is the directorial debut of John Rosman who also wrote the engaging, compelling script which has added resonance since Covid.