Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Life' (2017)
A well thought out Alien knockoff
You know, I get that this movie is very similar to a low-tech Alien (1979), but they are two distinctly different movies, and while there are many similarities, they are not the same. So I'm not really going to get on the bandwagon of calling this an Alien Knockoff, tempting as it is. I think, while this movie is nowhere near as good as Alien, it clearly stands out on its own with its own merits. And, to be fair, Alien is still my all-time favorite movie.
But let's talk plot, since they are so similar. What this delivers with its lower tech is a series of technological difficulties that plague the crew of the International Space Station WHILE they're combatting a hostile alien organism named Calvin (Not a spoiler, we all knew what this was). You see, the Nestromo had artificial gravity, large livable compartments, advanced sensory equipment, basically all the fixings. The INSS has absolutely none of these. The crew have to fight in zero gravity, in claustrophobic chambers, with basically very little exploitable technology. As a matter of fact, the technology is more easily exploited by Calvin. That's actually kinda brilliant. It really changes the tone of the movie and drives home that sense of a struggle for survival with limited resources.
This also sets up an amazing atmosphere. I mean, the set is so claustrophobic. Zero Gs also makes the crew seem even more hindered and helpless. And the scenes in the vacuum of space really drive home the helplessness.
I do think they punched up the gimmicks of the space station a little bit too much. I get that the holographic space station image was there for the sake of the plot, but it does come off as a little silly. Unfortunately, it takes away a bit from the feel of the movie which is intentionally lower-tech.
One thing I have to give them plenty of credit for is the level of detail they put into making the setting and plot seem sciency. Sure there are inaccuracies, I even noticed a couple, but for the most part the movie does feel very sciency, which is important for sci-fi horror. Science fiction grounds the horror in reality and makes it tangible. It feels like something that could happen in our time which makes the terror feel more real.
It also has an all-star cast which is pretty impressive. The acting is good enough for Hollywood. Sure, you'll never get an Oscar for acting in horror... but that's mostly because the Oscars are an out-of-touch circle jerk that works mostly on bribes and not merit.
Honestly, this movie is good enough that I can recommend it for general adult audiences. I even think Horror Heads are gonna love it. Not sure where, but I suspect this is going to be pretty high on my all-time top horror list. Maybe in the 20's somewhere?
But yeah, give it a shot.
I was pretty disappointed with the habits of Calvin. First off, why did we need to "set Calvin off." In the movie, Calvin becomes hostile when the lead scientist prods Calvin with a shock. This starts Calvin's hostile survival behaviors. It seems to me that Calvin could have just been a hostile alien organism. Do we really need to justify it? This is horror, after all. Alien (1979) didn't need a reason for the Xenomorph to start killing people. It could just be a predator by nature and kill for food's sake.
There's also this scene where Calvin digests a rat, whole and alive, which is a pretty brutal scene. So, why didn't Calvin digest the members of the crew that it kills? I mean, it would have been pretty cool for Calvin to become the size of a human. It would have certainly made Calvin a lot scarier, which I have to confess, it really isn't. It's always kinda small, and even kinda cute. I realize Calvin is mostly indestructible and definitely carnivorous, but it's still kinda cute.
But mild disappointments aside, it's really quite good. I give it my full recommendation as a must-watch.
About the Creator
I'm the foulmouthed horror movie critic. I post new reviews every Sunday, so stay tuned =D
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