Life is an interesting evolution of the space horror genre but it can’t escape the shadow of Alien

Life (2017) – Film Review

With the release of Life, we appear to have Fox’s Deadpool to thank for a return to more explicit genre movies which include the recent release of Logan.

Life 2017 film poster

Life 2017 film poster

Life is the latest in the line of films that aren’t afraid to exclude younger kids and use the higher rating to field gory visuals and sweary language.

A group of six astronauts aboard the International Space Station capture an errant space probe returning from Mars and confirm the existence of extra-terrestrial life in a sample brought back from the red planet.

After an all-too-brief setup, in which the life form is named “Calvin” after a school back on Earth, the action begins following the usual haunted house sequence of events.

Each of the astronauts is given the briefest of introductions and you might get to see one aspect of their character explained briefly to tell them apart – there’s two Americans, two Brits, a Japanese, and a Russian commander.

The recognisable main stars of the piece are Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) as wise-cracking engineer Rory, Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals) as loner pilot David, and Rebecca Ferguson (Misson Impossible: Rogue Nation) as Miranda (a by-the-book doctor).

What follows is, as you would expect from the trailer, a claustrophobic haunted house horror set aboard in which the crew are terrorised by ‘Calvin’ and you can’t help but begin to spot the inspirations throughout.

The astronauts aboard the space station must try and work out how to contain the threat from Calvin but you know it’s not going to end well for at least some of them.

LifeĀ a decent genre space horror film

Clearly we’re squarely in the realm of 1979’s Alien, but there’s a large slice of 2013’s Gravity with the ISS being the setting for the action and fans of more obscure films which have been referenced.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson in Life

David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) in Columbia Pictures’ LIFE.

Unfortunately, the Life doesn’t quite raise itself up to meet the high standards set by those earlier films but it does a solid enough job of raising the tension levels even if there’s little in the film to shock beyond the goryness.

The characters soon settle into the genre staple of being effectively prey being hunted by a CGI nasty which moves along at pace with enough twists in the plot to keep interest levels up.

The final reel does reveal a dramatic ending, but that doesn’t mean that Life is anything other than a decent space horror film, and fans of the genre won’t find themselves overly shocked by the denouement.

It’s just a shame that we’ll be able to compare with Alien: Covenant in a matter of weeks.

Life (15; strong horror, gory images, language; 103 minutes)

Summary: LIFE is a US science fiction horror film in which a space station crew discover an extraterrestrial lifeform.

Verdict: ***