Life is practically a tribute to the greatest horror sci-fi movie of all time: Alien. However, it manages to deliver a unique story to the extent that it’s one of the best in its genre!

Life 2017 poster sci-fi horror reviewIt almost feels as if Life came out of nowhere. Of course, we’ve known about the movie for a while and loved every scrap of information or image, we could get our eyes on. But really, it wasn’t until the Life trailer came out that we had any idea what to truly expect.

Up until that point, I was a bit nervous about what the plot and drive would be. Since the trailer came out, however, I’ve been very excited about getting to watch it. Don’t worry, Life does not disappoint!

Still, you need to manage your expectation a bit perhaps. Unlike the iconic Alien, the story in Life doesn’t take place in the future. Oh no, this is very much a current situation, which makes it more relevant and engaging.

I mean, it does manage to make you think about the core issue; What will happen when we discover life in outer space? Are we in any way equipped to handle it? That’s basically the question we’re faced with in Life. Or rather, how quickly things can go very wrong when we’re messing with things we know nothing about. And have no control over.

Life takes off slow but isn’t a slow-burner

I really enjoyed the fact that we were allowed some time to get to know the characters. Just so you have an idea of what to expect from them before everything goes sideways. And man, does it! We don’t do spoilers, so I won’t get into how and why.

Also, do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers!

There are plenty of interesting issues that will surprise you during the movie so try and avoid these details as well. Before we get that far, we get the chance to experience the day-to-day experience of being an astronaut. That’s no small feat when the runtime is only 1 hour and 43 minutes. Somehow, we still get plenty of horror after the pleasant introduction.

Life review - horror sci-fi starring Jake Gyllenhaal

But since it’s very relevant to the story that we know which roles (or jobs, if you will) the astronauts each have, it’s the perfect way to begin. It’s also a very good way to remind the audience that astronauts are scientists and not soldiers. These people are doctors and engineers, who had fairly normal jobs before heading out to be among the stars.

Fortunately, they also tend to be extremely professional when anything goes wrong. Not only are they trained and capable of taking care of both themselves and one another, they’re also totally alone and relying on each other. They are, after all, in space!

The power of a good cast

Let’s be honest; The reason most people will go watch this movie is because of Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) and Ryan Reynolds (DeadpoolThe Voices). I happen to love them both, but the third star of the movie was still my favorite. Swedish Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation) was perfectly laid back and natural in her portrayal, which suited the character perfectly.

Of course, we also get to enjoy a cheeky Ryan Reynolds in the beginning, but nothing that takes away from the serious tone of the movie. And Jake Gyllenhaal plays the astronaut with the most days spent in space. It turns out he prefers being up there after having worked as a doctor in war-torn countries. Basically, he’s fed up with human beings and is happy to be away from death and destruction.

Rebecca Ferguson shines in her portrayal

Reynolds and Gyllenhaal both portray American astronauts, while Rebecca Ferguson is a British astronaut. She’s also the other doctor on board the International Space Station. Specifically, she’s there from the CDC [Center for Disease Control] to monitor the soil samples from Mars. Obviously, no strange virus or bacteria can be brought down to the surface of our planet.

Life horror sci-fi review - Rebecca Ferguson

Besides these three characters, we have an additional three astronauts that are at least as important. There’s the Russian captain portrayed by Olga Dihovichnaya who reminded me of a younger Isabella Rossellini. She’s the respected and skilled leader of the mission, who has no problem making the tough calls or taking the lead. As the primary technician in charge of knowing everything about the space station, we have Japanese astronaut portrayed by Hiroyuki Sanada. You may recognize him from the original Japanese Ringu which turned into The Ring franchise in both Japan and the US.

Finally, there’s one more British astronaut portrayed by Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One). He’s the one responsible for examining the actual samples from Mars. At first, this means he gets to encounter the new life form, which is obviously an amazing discovery. Later on, he also becomes the first to feel the dangers it entails – something the trailer reveals, but really isn’t much of a spoiler.

Space needs to be experienced on the silver screen

Some movies really do need to be experienced on a huge screen with an amazing sound system, and Life is one of them. Space is simply too big to be experienced on a TV screen. At least the first time around. If you want to get the full experience and not just watch it as an “action flick”, then make sure you watch this in a theater.

Swedish Daniel Espinosa directed Life and, in my opinion, did an amazing job of getting the full story told in less than two hours. Daniel Espinosa previously directed Ryan Reynolds in Safe House from 2012, where he co-starred with Denzel Washinton. The screenwriters of Life also have a connection to Reynolds, since they wrote the script for Deadpool. Their names are Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and kudos to them for a dangerously realistic feeling story.

Life is out in countries worldwide and released in US theaters on March 24, 2017.


Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare, Hiroyuki Sanada


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station discover life in a soil sample from Mars. However, the amazing discovery quickly turns into a nightmare that threatens the crew and possibly all life on Earth.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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