The Horror Show

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by Daniel Espinosa

I think aside from the post-apocalyptic my favorite sub-genre of horror would be alien and claustrophobia-inducing space horror. When I first saw the trailer for the new Ryan Reynolds/Jake Gyllenhaal film Life, a few of my favorites came to mind like Alien, Event Horizon, or even Pandorum (yeah, I liked it, so sue me). With a star-studded cast and one hell of a budget, I think a lot of people had high expectations for this new film, and while it didn’t necessarily disappoint, it was definitely missing that wow factor.

The movie has a basic enough plot, a crew aboard the ISS have discovered life on Mars and as the film slowly progresses through the first act, we soon discover that this alien lifeform poses a threat to the crew and to all of humanity back on Earth.

Honestly, the best way for me to describe this film in one sentence would be “a dumbed down version of Alien meshed with The Abyss.” That’s not a bad thing by any means, but it’s nothing completely thrilling either. There was a lot of rinsing and repeating throughout the film as the story unfolded and even though I enjoyed the bitterly satisfying ending, I saw it coming from a mile away.

When it comes to space horror, there’s not a whole lot writers and directors can do to top the cream of the crop that’s already been released, but I at least expected something new to be brought to the table. With a film titled Life I liked to think there would have been something hidden in the plot with a reveal of something deeper. Perhaps something meaningful that would have elevated it and set it apart from the other carbon copy alien films out there, but really it was kept quite simple. Simple isn’t always bad, but in this case, the simplicity is what made it fall flat for me.

The acting was fantastic, as was to be expected, and visually the film is stimulating and beautiful, but when your big-bad alien looks almost like a cute Pokémon, it’s kind of hard to root for the good guys. There were definitely some interesting death scenes but not a whole lot of gore to make them completely satisfying. I was also a bit disappointed with how things felt so rushed toward the end.

Is Life the break out sci-fi horror film of 2017? No, not by any means, especially not when we have a new Alien film coming out in May. But I will say it’s worth a watch if space horror is your thing and if you’re looking for something entertaining to help you pass some time.

Stevie Kopas, HMS

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