Some people are genuinely afraid of death. They don’t want to know about ghosts or apparitions and don’t want to talk about death. That is not me. I have always had what I think is a healthy relationship with death. It is a part of life, and it is unavoidable. So when I heard of a new film, Next Exit, where we follow two strangers’ journey to volunteer and die for a scientist’s research, I was intrigued.

Watching the film, starring Katie Parker and Rahul Kohli, I found that ultimately, in this film, our journey in death is just like our journey in life. It is different for everyone. There is a beautiful aspect and a sad aspect to it.

I spoke with the director, writer, and co-producer of the film, Mali Elfman, about what inspired her to make this film. She first began with the idea of a character named Rose going through depression and mental anguish. Then Elfman started adding Teddy, another character going through similar emotions but for different reasons. These are the two leads that we follow. Along their road trip to the research center, we meet other people, a cheeky priest, a veteran, etc.

“I knew I wanted a religious element, a political element, a family element, and a spiritual element because those are normally factors in the big decisions that we make in our lives,” Elfman explains. “I wanted to say that I hear all of these elements, they’re all relevant, and look at them without judgment and yet all of them kind of don’t matter. What really matters is human beings, our connections, and how we live our lives.”

Mali Elfman

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I appreciate Elfman’s inspiration and thought process to make a film that may be considered a horror to some while a drama to others, but ultimately, it is a film about living your life without feeling alone and shame. When I asked her was this autobiographical, she shared:

“It is not but I have made mistakes that I felt were that there was no way for me to get past and then I dealt with them and actually they weren’t that big and that’s the monster of shame; when you feel like something will kill you or make you collapse or take away everything and suddenly gets built up into something huge instead of just understanding that that is something that you can deal with and you can do it and that’s Rose’s journey.”

And since this film concentrates on these two people’s journeys but is also about a scientist’s research, I asked if there are plans for more characters, a sequel, or something.

“I hope so, if I was allowed to, I would stay in this world forever, I have so much more mythology that I would love to express.”

Mali Elfman

I noted that Kevin Smith, one of my favorite filmmakers has made Clerks III this past year, over 25 years since the first film and it was a touching film. For Elfman and her cast and crew, I hope we do see more.

The film is releasing this month.

Watch the trailer here:

*Image from the IMDb page.