[Review] NEW LIFE – A Slow Burn Virus Thriller That You’ll Want To Catch

Over the years we’ve certainly seen more than a few attempts at “virus horror” some better than others – all the way back to The Andromeda Strain and Romero’s The Crazies – “unknown virus run amok” flicks have peppered the genre. I’m not sure there have been enough of them that we can label them a “sub-genre” but, it has to be getting close.

For a film like this to work – character development has to be stellar. We all know the virus, and whatever it is that it’s going to do to you – is going to be scary so, we have to buy into the effects of said micro-intruder on the key players. I’m happy to report that NEW LIFE – a new film from writer/director John Rosman rises to the challenge.

The two principal players in this drama are Jessica, played by Hayley Erin, and Elsa, played by Sonya Walger – and while these two powerhouses don’t share any screentime till the end of the film – there is no denying the storyline they share – in his story, Rosman has cleverly intertwined the lives of an unknowingly exposed woman, on the run – and a “fixer”, hired by the agency who allowed the virus to escape who is battling an illness of her own. The way Rosman slowly unfurls the storyline, through flashbacks and subtle character moments, is deserving of note – and praise.

Young Jessica, through the help of others, and just plain shrewdness – manages to elude Sonya for the bulk of the film but it’s during her flight that the complete backstory is built – and the true horror of what is happening is revealed.

This film is a slow burn – the facts and the horror are leisurely paced through the pleasantly trim 84-minute run time – but with each twist in the storyline, with each new character addition – the viewer is drawn deeper into the dilemmas of not just the hunted – but also the hunter.

Once we start getting looks at the infected – and the results of the released toxin – the horror is enhanced even more as we know these people, we’ve spent time with them – we’ve seen their kindness, and we feel empathy for them – and that helps deliver a knockout punch that so many of today’s other horror films seem to lack the ability to find.

Trying to stay spoiler-free – but the final confrontation between Jessica and Sonya is so well played – moving, horrifying, heartbreaking, and raw – it left me exhausted.

There is blood and special effects but they are not gratuitous, nor shoved down your throat – they serve the story – they heighten the horror – they are balanced perfectly.

NEW LIFE surprised me – I went in unknowing of what I was about to digest – I exited impressed, intrigued, and happy to have finally found a horror film that realized the importance of story, and the power of empathy.

From what I can find out – the film hit VOD on May 3rd, which means now that you have read this – you can seek it out and get infected. I highly recommend you do.

UPDATED: For you UK fans reading this, we just got word that NEW LIFE will be available in the UK on Digital Download from 3rd June.

Dave Dreher
Co-Founder / Lead News Reporter at Gruesome Magazine
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.