Next exit

Next exit
Original title:Next exit
Director:Mali Elfman
Running time:103 minutes
Release date:04 november 2022
Widespread acceptance of ghosts has given rise to Life Beyond, a radical scientific study based in San Francisco that allows volunteers to commit suicide without pain. After all, what's left to fear from the afterlife? In New York City, two strangers who are ready to die happen to share a rental car to drive across the country to their respective appointments. Initial friction leads to an emotional connection as their dates with death grow closer.

Mulder's Review

The eternal question of the existence of an afterlife is at the center of Mali Elfman's first film, written and directed. Discovered during the London Frightfest festival. Yet in this dystopian society everything seems identical to ours except for the fact that life after death seems to have been proven and that ghosts from the past live among the living.  

In this universe, a renowned research scientist, Dr. Stevenson (Karen Gillan) makes national headlines by proving that she can track people in the afterlife via a new high-tech system. This new concept calls everything we know into question and leads to a real reflection on our place in society. Rose (Katie Parker) and Teddy (Rahul Kohli), who don't know each other, meet at a car rental company and decide to leave together for Dr. Stevenson's laboratory and commit suicide to reach the world of the dead. However, Rose and Teddy also have their own inner ghost and while Rose seems to be pursued by an elusive ghostly presence, Teddy decides to confront his past. As they travel the roads of the United States from New York to San Francisco, they will make singular encounters that will affect their way of seeing the world around them and make a crucial choice for their future.

The first film written and directed by Mali Elfman is not meant to be a science fiction film relying almost solely on numerous special effects, but rather an intimate chronicle quite close to the work of Mike Flanaggan, that is to say, on perfectly portrayed characters and relying more on a psychological approach than on a puerile science fiction film bringing nothing really new to the genre. The film relies almost solely on its two main characters and their difficult relationship, on two opposite points of view on life and on what awaits us after. By also putting at the center of the story an experimental euthanasia program allowing to join the realm of the dead and to be kept under surveillance, the film is voluntarily destabilizing. The director's vision is hardly reassuring and shows that it is better to take advantage of our time on earth to enjoy the luck we have to be alive and well. 

Far from being only a road movie in a dystopian world, Next Exit is oriented towards the reflection on what characterizes our humanity and the fact of being able to communicate with our deceased. The director has insisted on staying in a realistic universe in which there is only an important science fiction element, but which makes the society depicted similar to ours and allows a real connection with the spectators in front of this intelligent and emotional work. There is no doubt that Mali Elfman is a gifted director and that we will follow with interest her next films. 

Despite the fact that this is an intimate work, the director Mali Elfman has a real gift for telling and filming a story, making it exciting for the audience. The care given to the photography as much as to the dialogues makes that Next Exit was one of the highlights of the Frightfest selection and we can only advise you to discover this film when it will be released in the United States on November 4th.

Next Exit
Written and diirected by Mali Elfman
Produced by Mali Elfman, Derek Bishé, Narineh Hacopian
Starring Katie Parker, Rahul Kohli, Rose McIve, Karen Gillan, Tongayi Chirisa, Diva Zappa
Cinematography : Azuli Anderson
Edited by Brett W. Bachman
Music by Ariel Marx
Distributed by Magnet Releasing
Release dates : June 10, 2022 (Tribeca), November 4 2022 (United States)
Running time : 103 minutes

Seen on august 28, 2022 (press screeener)

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