Tuesday, October 16, 2018

31 Days of Horror 2018: Life (2017)

Directed by Daniel Espinosa.
2017. Rated R, 104 minutes.
Jake Gyllenhaal
Rebecca Ferguson
Ryan Reynolds
Olga Dihovichnaya
Hiroyuki Sanada
Ariyon Bakare

The six member crew of the International Space Station are busy doing what astronauts do when they get an unexpected gift. An unmanned space probe is returning from Mars with possible evidence of life on that planet. Our heroes manage to retrieve it. When they get it inside, they not only find evidence of life, but actual life in the form of a single dormant cell that they revive. Before long, this thing is multiplying in size. The crew debates what should be done with this creature, some things happen, and it comes to feel threatened. That's when people start dying.

If all of this sounds overly familiar it's because you've already seen this movie lots of times under different titles. Like the rest, it feels like yet another in a long line of Alien rip-offs. For most of its runtime, it plays out like a beat by beat remake, save for its creature bursting out of someone's chest. Surprises are in short supply. It has but one original(-ish) thought in its head which it tries saving for the thrilling finale. Unfortunately, it telegraphs its punch, negating its power. On the plus side, it's one helluva punch. Even though its impact is minimized, it still lands.

For some, that ending will be a saving grace. It will wipe away lots of this movie's sins. It absolves the film of a good number of them for me, too. The simple fact it has the balls to go where it does earns it points. Another factor in its favor is the cast. The small troupe does an excellent job. They make the most of their roles and draw us into the proceedings despite the film treading such well-worn ground. If I have to pick standouts, I guess I'm going with Olga Dihovichnaya and Jake Gyllenhaal who play the mission commander and the medical officer, respectively. Still, this is a true ensemble effort with no weak links. They possess a collective charm that helps make it easier to forgive the lack of originality.

No matter what, this film can't be completely forgiven. The talented and game cast and wonderful sequel-ready conclusion can only mask so much. Those things make it watchable, even fun, but not as impactful as it could have been. However, it I'm being fair, I have to make allowances for the fact that Alien is nearly forty years old at the time of this writing, and I am even older. For viewers who haven't seen the Sigourney Weaver led classic, particularly those still looking forward to birthday number thirty, Life might be a fresh enough take on the sci-fi horror genre to really get under their skin, or at least, a solid update on the premise. For grizzled vets like us, movie bloggers and people who read movie blogs, it's a decent film with an ending that keeps it from being totally forgettable.


  1. This is on Starz! though I don't have much interest in it as I heard it rips off the Alien film series.

  2. I wasn't crazy about this at all, though the ending was pretty good. I know I'm in the very small minority here but I liked The Cloverfield Paradox better than this.

    1. I liked this better, but I'm not crazy about it. Good ending, ok movie.

  3. I know most people were really down on this movie but I actually had fun with it. I've had a review written for several months and don't quite remember what score I gave it. But I thought it was entertaining and I say that as a big "Alien" fan.

    1. It wasn't necessarily bad. In fact, it was pretty well made and very well acted. It was just soooooo familiar.

  4. Yeah...I don't think I will see this movie...too scary