Life Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Space horror Life: analysis of the plot and details. (2017):  meaning of the film, explanation of the ending, similar films.

Country: USA, UK

Genre: fantasy, thriller, horror

Year of production: 2017

Director: Daniel Espinoza

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Olga Dykhovichnaya, Hiryuki Sanada

tagline: “Smart. Strong. Soulless”

Awards & Nominations: Nominated for 2018 Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film

The plot and meaning of the film “Life” do not pretend to say a new word in science fiction. However, given the rather small number of films in the space horror genre, this tape can be called a worthy representative of it. The characters, unlike many similar films, do not behave frankly stupid, the tension is conveyed well. A creature from outer space causes fear not because of its appearance, but because of its strength and vitality. In addition, the action takes place not in deep space, but on the International Space Station of the modern era. There is also a representative of Russia in the crew, who for once is depicted not stereotypically and is an intelligent and courageous female character.

What is the movie about

Members of the ISS crew intercept a craft returning from Mars with samples of local rocks. Among them is a living being. People call him Calvin after the school, which in turn is named after one of the US presidents, Calvin Coolidge, and whose students were given the opportunity to name the alien.

Living beingFrame from the film.

Due to the fact that scientists do not know what danger even a single-celled alien creature can pose, they do not see the point in delivering it to Earth. The organism begins to be examined on the ISS itself. It soon turns out that Calvin is in suspended animation and, when the right conditions are recreated, he is able to get out of it and show signs of a rational being. It gradually grows and turns out to be an organism of many cells, each of which is multifunctional. Biologist Hugh Derry, who conducts experiments, describes Calvin as a rapidly learning living neural network.

However, the body again falls into suspended animation when the chamber in which it is located is depressurized. Hugh tries to wake him up with a stun gun. After another attempt, Calvin suddenly squeezes the biologist’s hand tightly and eventually breaks it. Then the creature gets out of the chamber, thus showing its amazing intelligence. Thus, the first security barrier is violated.

The captain – Russian Ekaterina Golovkina – orders the destruction of Calvin. Rory’s crew member wields a plasma torch and attempts to kill the creature. But Calvin, showing remarkable dexterity, dodges, and then jumps into the astronaut’s mouth and kills him. Having got out of the body of a dead astronaut, the alien organism already looks several times larger. Meanwhile, in zero gravity, the burner collides with the flame detector and activates the fire suppression system. Calvin gets out of the laboratory through the ventilation pipe – the second security barrier is broken.

Olga DykhovichnayaOlga Dykhovichnaya played the role of Ekaterina Golovkina, and Hiroyuki Sanada played the role of Sho Murakami. Frame from the film.

The astronauts manage to send a distress signal to the ground mission control center before the communication system is disrupted. To understand the cause of the breakdown, Ekaterina goes into outer space. She finds out that the equipment overheated due to the fact that Calvin absorbed the refrigerant of the cooling system. The creature gets out of the ship and attacks Catherine. Calvin compresses the suit and disrupts its life support system. The girl begins to choke on technical fluid. She flies up to the bay door, which David Jordan is ready to open. He asks Ekaterina to help – turn the handle clockwise.

At first, the girl does so, but suddenly begins to rotate it in the opposite direction. Miranda North realizes that the captain is doing this on purpose, because he does not want to let the creature on board. Ekaterina chokes on technical fluid in a spacesuit and dies. Calvin sneaks into the station anyway.

The surviving astronauts Miranda, David, Hugh and Shaw Murakami are going to depressurize the station in order to deprive Calvin of oxygen, while they themselves escape in the recreational compartment. Suddenly Hugh becomes ill, he dies. Trying to save him, the astronauts discover Calvin under his clothes. After escaping from the creature, Miranda and David lock themselves in the main compartment, with Shaw in a sleep pod. Calvin, unable to reach the living astronauts, is sent back to consume Hugh’s body.

David and Miranda see a ship approaching the ISS for docking. The girl says this is not a rescue mission. In accordance with the content of the instructions, which Miranda herself insisted on before the flight, it is necessary at all costs to prevent the violation of the third security barrier – the ISS itself. To do this, the station will be towed further from the Earth, into space.

Shaw, believing that rescuers have docked at the ISS, sets out to meet them. He opens the docking airlock and thus, unwittingly, allows Calvin to attack the arriving humans and kill them. Miranda and David make an attempt to save Shaw, but in vain.

Jake GyllenhaalJake Gyllenhaal starred as David Jordan. Frame from the film.

David comes up with the idea to lure Calvin into an escape pod with baits – oxygen candles. In another capsule, Miranda is to go to Earth. It seems that the idea succeeds: David is left alone with the creature, Miranda is safe. The capsules take off. In case of combustion in the Earth’s atmosphere, Miranda records an audio message. But in the end, everything does not go according to plan: in the end, the girl flies into outer space, and the capsule with David and Calvin ends up on Earth in the ocean. The fishermen are coming. They see David in the deadly embrace of an alien. He tries to tell the fishermen not to open the capsule, but it’s too late. We see how other boats are approaching – soon the list of Calvin’s victims will be significantly replenished.

Life Ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the film Life is the use by the screenwriters of a technique typical for the finals of horror films. It can be summed up like this: “Evil seems to have been defeated…but no!”.

It is worth explaining how it happened that the capsules set off on courses opposite to those planned by the astronauts. The answer is this: Miranda’s capsule collided with debris from the ISS and flew into space. David tried to get away from the Earth with the help of manual control. But Calvin entangled him with his tentacles and thus changed course.

If you do a frame-by-frame analysis, it turns out that the episode with the capsule flying into space follows the close-up of David, and the sequence with the capsule passing through the atmosphere follows the close-up of Miranda. However, this is the trick of the installation. The point is that the director intentionally knocked down the audience in order to keep the intrigue.

Ryan ReynoldsRoy Adams is played by Ryan Reynolds. Frame from the film.

There is one more incomprehensible moment: why was David alive after the splashdown? After all, already when approaching the Earth, Calvin had the opportunity to deal with him – we saw how he even opened the astronaut’s spacesuit. Here it is interesting to get acquainted with the interpretation of director Daniel Espinoza. In his opinion, something happened between the alien and David in the process of approaching the Earth – there was a semblance of mutual understanding. Espinoza sees this explanation of the ending as logical, in view of the fact that David initially did not show any aggression towards the creature.

As the story progressed, we were given to understand several times that this astronaut was disgusted with war and violence. So, according to Espinoza, it can still end in peace – the Earth is not doomed.

However, the director considers the film Life to be a finished work that does not require continuation. But the opinion of the screenwriters of the picture Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are directly opposite. They believe that Life deserves an epic sequel, dedicated to a large-scale war between a multiplied Calvin and humans. But the box office didn’t do well, so the producers decided not to make a sequel, at least not yet.

The meaning of the film Life

Despite the fact that Life provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of interspecies struggle and compare it with conflicts between people (there are short dialogues on this topic in the film), the essence of the film is not at all in this. This is a pure cosmic thriller / horror, the main task of which is to keep the viewer on their toes and impress with its sci-fi component. It is hardly worth looking for any hidden meaning in the painting “Living”.

Similar films

  • Alien (US, UK, 1979): Ridley Scott’s cult space horror classic that inspired the film Alive;
  • Prometheus (USA, UK, 2012): Alien prequel;
  • Alien: Covenant (US, UK, 2017): a sequel to Prometheus, which is a rethinking of the entire Aliens universe;
  • “The Cloverfield Paradox” (USA, 2018): space horror, part of the movie universe of the films “Monstro” and “Cloverfield 10”;
  • “Gravity” (USA, UK, Mexico, 2013): Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller that claims to be realism;
  • “Underwater” (USA, 2019): a brave girl played by Kristen Stewart fights a deep-sea monster;
  • “Something” (USA, Canada, 2011): a group of scientists confronts an insidious alien mimicking them.
  • “Apollo 18” (USA, Canada, 2011): a lunar expedition is faced with something terrible – space horror filmed in the style of “mockumentary”.
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