The movie Life has an awkward title with a familiar premise and yet it turns out to be a great thrill ride of a film. The plot is reminiscent of the Alien films but this story is a little more grounded and has a bit of a philosophical edge to it. The tag line warns us that we should be careful what we search for and that’s a real life valid concern. When you think about our space program and our search for life, what if we do find something that we wish we hadn’t?
Aside from posing questions about space exploration, this film is extremely effective as a horror thriller. The story starts innocently enough. We see a group of scientist on an International Space Station discover a new form of life from the planet Mars. It’s a festive occasion. Finding life on another planet is what we’ve been looking forward to for decades.
However, we soon find out that the living organism that they’ve discovered is a terrifying animalistic organism. It’s a predator that feeds on other life forms to survive. As human beings we are also somewhat of a predatory species as we also kill life and feed on it to survive. This film flips the scenario. It presents an alien life form captured in a foreign environment that must feed on the humans in order to survive. As the alien life feeds, it gets bigger and stronger.
What makes this such a terrifying scenario to watch is that these arn’t soldiers or superpowered people fighting an alien. These are just ordinary individuals with no weapons. These characters are basically sitting ducks against a superior foe with no way to escape. As each character faces the threat of death, the film makes you feel the terror that the character is feeling. I really like the mundane moments that we get in the beginning of the film that allows us to empathize with the scientists once the action starts.
Director Daniel Espinosa creates a film with constant tension and its a flawless blend of horror and sci-fi. Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and especially Rebecca Ferguson are great in this film, but the direction and the story are the real stars of this production. Through Espinosa’s use of camera angles, music, and the production design, we enter a dark, cramped, and dangerous environment where death can happen at any moment.
Life is one of those films that sticks with you after you’ve seen it. It’s proof that you can make a great film with a familiar premise by adding your own personal touches. This is a predictable film right down to the very end but the execution is perfect. Whether unintentional or not, this is a film of great depth and it poses many questions about the nature of survival and life.