LIFE is the kind of film to pit me in battle against my inner 15-year-old self.
The 15-year-old me would have loved it. It was a certified a 15 in this country and so I’m sure he and his friends would have gone to one of the cinemas which then existed on Queen Street, Cardiff, munched away on popcorn and adored it. All the frights and thrills, the ickiness of the monster, the moments of it bursting out of people, even the twist ending. Everything about it would have appealed to me as a 15-year-old.
Yes, of course, at 15 I’d already seen ALIEN, so I’d have been fully aware of its heritage. But at 15, that would have been part of the charm – after all, why aren’t there more films like ALIEN?
Now, 42-years-old and somewhat rounder about the middle, I enjoy LIFE to a certain point, but then just wish I was watching ALIIEN. (Or EVENT HORIZON for that matter, a film I adored a little later for its bringing together of ALIEN and HELLRAISER). It’s fine, it does what it does well (so much so that my wonderful, but not a fan of horror films, wife couldn’t watch it beyond the forty-minute point) but there’s such a sense of having seen it all before that it’s impossible to feel passionate about it either way. It exists, it’s a film that exists.
Even the twist ending is so obviously going to be a twist ending, that even while watching it I was concentrating on the mechanics of how they were pulling off the trick, rather than being involved in the story.
In short, a film like LIFE might be perfectly happy to stand in the shadow of giants, but a giant xenomorph casts a damn long shadow.
Fancy a free FRJ horror story? There’s one available here.