Friday, July 22

Fantasia International Film Festival - Next Exit Review


NEXT EXIT Film Review

Written/Directed by Mali Elfman

Fantasia International Film Festival


Strap yourself in for a life changing road trip. NEXT EXIT, an official selection at Tribeca 2022, had its screening at Fantasia International Film Festival on July 18 and I can’t get this film out of my head. That’s a good thing.

NEXT EXIT is set in the near future where a breakthrough scientific discovery has changed the course for humanity. Research scientist Dr. Stevenson (Karen Gillan) has discovered that ghosts are very real and continue to exist beyond. Thanks to her technology, ghosts can be identified and tracked. A call goes out for volunteers to help her research and very quickly, lines are divided over the ethical implications involved. 

Yet there are still very eager volunteers. That’s when we meet Rose (Katie Parker), a young woman being haunted by a presence she can’t outrun, and Teddy (Rahul Kohli), a young man looking to confront his past. 

In a chance encounter, these two are forced to drive together to San Francisco from New York to make their volunteer appointments. During those 2,901 miles, they bicker, they annoy each other, they learn more about each other’s lives and meet different people along their journey that ultimately help them reckon with what is really driving their desire to die.

This film does not hold back when it comes to hot button issues - science, religion, right to die, suicide, PTSD, border issues, etc. And I applaud Mila for her sensitivity yet impactful writing and direction around these topics.

Watching the film there are plenty of intense moments – one of which features a border patrol agent in Texas – that hit harder than most horror films as these are genuine human moments. And just when you need a little a relief, the characters come at you with their vulnerability, tenderness and touch of their comedic side. It’s a very well-balanced film.

Additionally, the small cast leaves an impression. The chemistry between Kaite Parker and Rahul Kohli is absolutely amazing. Karen Gillan does a great Elizabeth Holmes-esque research doctor. And the guides Rose and Teddy meet along their journey, while only briefly a part of their lives, are memorable and leave a lasting impression making the climax of the film that much more powerful.

NEXT EXIT is one beautiful film and has been added to my list of films I feel every human should be required to watch to make humanity better.

4.5 out of 5.0


Stay tuned for my interview with Mail Elfman and Katie Parker! I'll be posting it shortly.

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