*No major spoilers*
Holy Sh*t, it was intense. Life aboard the International Space Station is probably anxious and claustrophobic enough without the unwelcome stowaway of a hostile, alien lifeform bent on killing everyone on board in the most horrible ways possible. And maybe saving the rest of the world for dessert.
Props to the cast for keeping a tense plot tight, not that they have too many places to run and hide within the confines of the ISS. Like Alien (1979), Life plays on our fears of dark, confined spaces, but here the background scenery and the technology are familiar to us (if we’ve been paying attention to NASA videos) and the horror is brought closer to home, here and now, rather than out there, far away. Perhaps reflective of the silence of space, dramatic moments are void of tension-heightening music building to crescendo, and it isn’t needed anyway as the action alone is already intense enough to provide quite the white-knuckle ride. Humour is used to great effect to round out the viewing experience, and it particularly brings out the fighting spirit of the characters as they attempt to stay positive in their dire situation. And, sure, there are some scenes that seem to defy conventional science, but dramatic licence and all.
It’s the dialogue that I am most impressed with. Life is a movie with lots of seamless foreshadowing phrases that make you go ‘omg’ once you realize that those phrases actually hold a helluva lot of meaning. Short phrases spoken casually in passing by the characters become really impactful by the end of the movie, when the whole story is told. Much of the dialogue leads up to the perfect sudden realization moment — I pretty much just paused, stunned; then wowed when I was reconnecting the scenes in my head and finally saw the big picture put together.
Overall, the movie is intense, action-packed, emotional and toys with our uncertainty; just like how space is, given what we don’t know about it. The plot does have some similarities with other sci-fi, space movies (from which it clearly draws inspiration) but with all the unexpected and sometimes sudden shocks and twists, it is definitely worth watching.