Space thrillers are always a good time, essentially because the feeling of isolation always works in building suspense. Life is pitched as a thriller but it ends up being more of a horror gore-fest… unfortunately.
Life is the story of a group of astronauts in the International Space Station (they’re played by Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Hall, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya). When trapping a space probe coming back from a Mars mission, they are encountered with alien life in the shape of a single cell organism. Everything seems joyous at this great scientific milestone, but things take a wrong turn, as the organism turns hostile.
The pitch for this movie is essentially Contagion meets Gravity meets Alien. And while the film offers up some very tense moments, it ends up relying on jump-scares and a splatter of gore towards the end that greatly diminish the opening efforts.
One thing that really upped the quality of the film for me was the amount of research that went into the plot, and the procedural look that is given to the film. We are left with a sense of realism; of which protocols would be applied in this specific situation.
However, if we’re talking about the actual plot, while the premise is incredibly gripping, many of the “scary” and tense situations are given about through so many coincidences that they end up losing their surprise effect in the closing moments (I wouldn’t be surprised if half the audience could call the plot twist at the end).
Overall however, I was left fairly satisfied with Life. The premise is essentially done justice throughout the film, and the strong cast does well to even add an emotional layer to the story. But if you’re expecting the nail-biting quality of Alien or Gravity then you will be disappointed.