A microbe rides all the way from Mars to the International Space Station where it’s captured by the six-person crew, who immediately begin conducting questionable experiments on it. These experiments lead to dangerous consequences, as the microbe quickly grows into a very hostile and uncontrollable alien entity. That’s the set-up for the upcoming sci-fi thriller Life, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson.
As a previous trailer indicated, the stakes are higher than just defending the space station against this unwittingly-unleashed alien creature. The crew of the station soon realizes that they must stop this growing menace before it gets to Earth, and that’s where the real suspense comes in.
A new red band trailer for Life (seen above) gives us very little new information about the movie’s plot, but does ramp up the tension considerably. The editing and music are much more intense than in previous previews and because this is a red band trailer, there are a few swear words too. The intention is pretty straight-forward: sell the movie as a suspenseful science fiction thriller about a small space station crew trapped with a hungry, ever-evolving alien entity that must be destroyed, before it can escape and threaten all life on Earth.
Another major selling-point for the movie is the idea that audiences crave original, non-franchise science fiction. The box office returns for movies like The Martian, Arrival and Gravity certainly bear out the idea that there is a big market for science fiction that’s not tied to a pre-existing franchise like Alien or Predator. Life appears to have a lot in common with Gravity, especially the attempt to realistically render outer space environments, with all the difficulties that process entails. It’s definitely not looking to hit the same uplifting, optimistic notes as Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated Arrival.
A very important part of any claustrophobic outer space thriller is the dynamic between the characters. That particular formula was laid out in the original Alien movie and has been more-or-less faithfully followed ever since. Making that come together is a lot easier when you have actors the caliber of Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, who previously demonstrated their rapport in a Life Q&A.
Realism and character dynamic are great of course, but at the end of the day, the biggest question with a movie like this is “How scary is the alien?” Judging by the brief glimpses we’ve gotten of Life, including one intense scene in its entirety, the monster looks pretty promising.