NOT MUCH NEW IN THE SCI-FI HORROR GENRE, BUT IT’S GOT TALENT AND TERROR!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
We were better off alone in Life
No, this is not a prequel to the Venom movie, just letting you know, now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about Life. The latest film in the “Trapped in Space” sci-fi horror genre that Ridley Scott’s Alien made popular back in 1979.
The film is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Easy Money, Safe House, Child 44) and was originally supposed to be directed by Byron Howard, yeah, the director of Tangled and co-director of Zootopia was set to direct a movie where an alien creature kills people in grotesque, horrifying ways. The marketing of the movie doesn’t show much which adds to the suspense and made me say “Whoa, how the hell does that happen? I won’t be able to sleep until I find out what it is”.
So, I went to see it opening weekend and…it’s a decent horror flick but with LOTS of creative kills. At least from what I saw, the plot of the movie is very reminiscent of Alien meets Gravity where a group of people are trapped in space with an extraterrestrial life form out to kill them.
The film follows a six-member astronaut crew aboard the International Space Station, senior medical officer, Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal-Donnie Darko, Prisoners, Nightcrawler), Quarantine officer, Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson-Hercules (2014), Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Girl on the Train), American engineer, Rory “Roy” Adams (Ryan Reynolds-National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, The Proposal, Deadpool), space station pilot, Sho Kendo (Hiroyuki Sanada-Ringu 1 and 2, Sunshine, Mr. Holmes), biologist, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare-The Dark Knight, Jupiter Ascending, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), and commander, Katerina Golovkina (newcomer, Olga Dihovichnaya) on the cutting edge of discovering something astounding, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. A multi-celled organism that reacts to stimuli, however as soon as the crew begin their research they realize the creature may be more intelligent than it looks.
And then, terror begins as the creature starts axing off the crew one by one in grotesque ways. Not to mention, they soon discover the creature has been responsible for destroying all life on Mars and must fend off the alien before it can make it to Earth or humanity will be extinct.
Overall, Life is short on creative storytelling, but makes up for it with solid acting and gruesome terror. I mean it, the kills in this movie get very brutal and watching it on IMAX made me have flashbacks of when I saw Prometheus for the first time in 2012.
Now that I think about it, Life is more reminiscent to Prometheus than it is to Alien when it comes to its gruesome kills, the creature squeezes someone’s hand to the point where it breaks and it reminded me of the alien snake attack scene in Prometheus. Still, quite worthy of the R-rating, even though it’ll probably be forgotten when Alien: Covenant comes out later on this year.
Besides the gore, the acting is quite good, Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is solid as a doctor who prefers to be in space than on Earth, Ryan Reynolds cracks a lot of jokes, though at times I wonder if he forgot that this isn’t a Deadpool movie, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya aren’t household names yet but I hope they go places, because they do a great job portraying Hugh and Katerina in this film, specifically Bakare, everything he says sounds interesting and makes me want to follow him throughout the film.
The camera work and visuals are spectacular, the way the movie is shot feels like you’re in the spaceship, and the design of the alien creature is very unique. Almost like a weird intergalactic jellyfish that has a craving for human blood, finally a movie with an alien that doesn’t look like something H.R. Giger made.
If you’re a fan of Alien or even Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, or just looking for a thrilling and terrifying experience in space, Life is worth a viewing. Don’t expect a horror masterpiece but you can expect thrills, gore, and disgust.