If you heard me say to you, “Hey, let’s go see this claustrophobic horror/thriller in space,” you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that I was referring to Ridley Scott’s Alien or at least a sequel. However, in this case, I would be talking about the newly released Life staring Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, and Arlyon Bakare. Life does use similar plot points to Alien, being that it takes place in a claustrophobic area as a team of astronauts and scientists try to survive as an evolving alien lifeform hunts and kills them off one by one, however it still manages to feel fresh and entertaining despite its similarities to the 1979 classic.
One of the biggest differences from Alien is that Life does not have one protagonist, rather it follows all the astronauts equally without any defining lead. This allows you to be able to attach to the characters a bit more, as well as add an extra level of unpredictability. If they had one defining protagonist (like Ripley) then it is a safe bet that that character would be safe, or at least not be the first to bite it. Throughout the film, I was unable to pinpoint who would be the lifeform’s next victim. And that really adds to the atmosphere and terror.
Speaking of those characters, this film has some of the most well developed characters seen in a horror movie. Each person is given a different role on the ship, with their own unique backstories, and are given equal amounts of screen time. An interesting aspect of Life is that as each character is killed off, the remaining team has to struggle with that character’s job on the ship no longer being filled. Making the struggle to survive harder and harder with each death. Being able to pull this off in the film, and make it believable, speaks volumes about the movies directing a script.
And don’t think that just because there are some stars in the movie that you recognize that they will get out alive. The filmmakers are not afraid to play with the audience’s preconceived expectations based on their knowledge of a cast member’s star power. Big props.
However, despite all these advantages I must admit that the sense of dread felt in the first part of the movie does not flow throughout the entire runtime. The last third of the film when we are down to the final survivors feels less scary and drags on just a bit. It feels almost as if the film makers are trying to meet a studio’s required runtime. Due to this dragging in the final 30 minutes makes the ending land with significantly less weight.
My Verdict: Life brings a lot of interesting and memorable elements of horror that drive the first two thirds of the film. And while the last thirty minutes of the movie does not carry as much terror as the beginning of the film, I do recommend people see this movie. Those wishing to have a good time at the movie theater watching grisly kill scenes that turn your stomach, and see a new terrifying movie monster will enjoy Life.
I am going to give Life a score of 3.75/5.
Have you seen Life yet? What is your favorite space horror movie? Leave a comment below! Lets make a discussion out of it.