Boasting the writers and star of last year's hottest movie (Deadpool), and with the added thespian weight of Jake Gyllenhaal, 'Life' seemed like somewhat of a slam dunk.
Opening strongly as the team ready for a hasty delivery from outer space, we soon learn that life has been found on Mars and that the sample is hurtling towards The International Space Station, where six astronauts from all over the world will study it. It's a solid set-up and Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's script has very little fat on it; you can see why, on paper at least, this appealed to the notoriously picky Gyllenhaal and the quickly ascending Ryan Reynolds.
The problem is, despite top billing, Reynolds is barely in the film and his character is the only one resembling a real person in the entire thing. When he's not around the production suffers and you struggle to give a shit about any of the characters, at times even struggling to understand them. It doesn't make sense when you consider these guys were also behind the razor sharp Zombieland. It also feels like a script where both guys were married to an ending and the film suffers overall as a result.
But look, a horror film in space can still be fun. It comes down to tension and atmosphere, right? We'd been told that 'Life' was kinda like Alien for The Conjuring crowd and that's an intriguing starting point. What it does do is abide by certain conventions of the horror genre, or more specifically, the haunted house sub-genre. So communication is cut off and calling for help is out of the question; they're being stalked and killed by a faceless creature; the only hope of survival is slim BUT... you get the idea.