Life – A Horrific Surprise of Epic Proportions (Some Spoilers)


The initial trailer I watched enticed. It left a viewer wanting more. It implied a story that didn’t exist.

Okay, maybe it did exist. But not in the way implied. The trailer suggested a Sci-Fi narrative about the creation of life – a promise of a story about overcoming adversity at all costs. Moreover, it certainly did not present a preview of a horror film.

Not such a good surprise…

In general, it is always nice when a trailer doesn’t leave you feeling as though you have already seen the entire movie. So, that surprise was welcome. For good or bad, though, Life horrified audiences. Subtle, yes, but the film can be classified as a horror film in tune with the likes of such films as Alien or Lost In Space – just not as good.

The difference rests in the delivery of the film. The acting, of course, was superb. But what otherwise remained was a cliché about good battling evil, right down to the overused concept of the evil seeming to win to make room for a sequel.

No surprise in the end…

Honestly, as the film unfolded, hope remained that in the end our heroes would overcome. But they didn’t. As the one space lifeboat barreled through the blackness beyond our solar system, it became obvious that our Martian life form, dubbed Calvin, would land on Earth instead of float aimlessly in deep space, as was the plan for humanity’s survival.

Calvin, it seems, has a mission to destroy earth, as it apparently had done on Mars. The implication being, that Mars was once a life-sustaining planet like Earth. That is, until Calvin, or others like Calvin, began their path of destruction, consuming all resources and leaving a wasteland in its wake.

Please, no sequel…

A sequel promises to be more of the same old thing – an unending battle between humans and this life form. It won’t bring anything new to a genre of film.

Yes, as science fiction meeting horror, the psychological terror clearly faced by our heroes transcended the screen. But that’s an obvious outcome. As is the wrong lifeboat landing on earth. Disappointment rings through, as the fishermen open the door to the next battle.

It would have been a nice surprise, for the door to open presenting a victory. Or at least the implication of a victory. A sequel still would have been possible, in that Calvin would have somehow found a way back to Earth – and maybe not alone. Now, that would have made for an exciting ending with a possibility of an electrifying sequel.

Making a statement…

The film does make a statement though. Calvin represents more than just an unknown alien. The curiosity that our astronauts have about Calvin ultimately is their downfall. Predictably so.

One might take the film to be speaking to the existence of human curiosity in general. As odd as it may sound, the film suggests that as humans we should stay on course and not go outside our comfort zones, lest we open the door to evil. It is in those moments when we venture into the unknown that bad things happen. Or so the movie seems say.

The film remains not as a feel-good story about overcoming adversity as new life is discovered. But rather, it serves as a warning about moving beyond some imaginary boundary, with exploration portrayed as noble but ill-advised.

In the end, the promise of a film with a powerful punch of science fiction simply didn’t deliver.


Featured image via Columbia Pictures.

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Bonniejean Alford

Bonniejean Alford professionally writes marketing content throughout the technology industry and regularly participates in genre specific fan sites. She spent her youth as an avid gamer and her current favorite pastime is just about anything science fiction or fantasy. While she doesn't consider herself a nerd, others have, which only adds to her uniqueness as a writer. Bonniejean hopes to complete her first novel this year, a coming of age story about a woman tapped to protect the timeline. While not exactly science fiction, the presence of time travel shapes the novel. Bonniejean also teaches Sociology at a community college in Illinois. You can connect with Bonniejean on Twitter.

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