March 23, 2017 / 9:19 PM / 9 months ago

'Life' movie finds alien terror within confines of space

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A deadly Martian creature hunts astronauts within the close, claustrophobic confines of a space ship in new thriller “Life,” which is an exploration into mankind’s hubris in its search for extraterrestrial life.

“Life,” out in theatres on Friday, follows the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as they discover and nurture a living organism from Mars.

As the alien life form, initially a cute little blob named Calvin, quickly grows and becomes stronger the astronauts find themselves fighting for their lives within the confines of the space station.

“When we go out and we take something from its natural habitat ... the question is when do we step over the threshold of ownership and maybe gradually create our own disaster?” actress Rebecca Ferguson, who plays the newest recruit aboard the ISS, told Reuters at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas where the film premiered.

FILE PHOTO - American actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends the photocall for the movie "Nocturnal Animals" at the 73rd Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

Deadly aliens have long been a fascination for Hollywood movies, such as 1996’s “Independence Day,” in which aliens try to destroy Earth, and 1979’s “Alien” in which an extraterrestrial monster hunts humans on a spaceship, much like the plot of “Life.”

The appeal of a space thriller lies in the isolation and close confines of the environment, said Ryan Reynolds, who plays an engineer aboard the ISS.

FILE PHOTO - Actor Ryan Reynolds takes the stage to be honored as Hasty Pudding Theatricals Man of the Year at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

“People love stories like that where you’re stuck and you’ve got to deal with whatever problem you have in the five or six rooms available to you to neutralise it or do whatever you need to do, so I think it’s kind of panic-inducing,” Reynolds said.

The thriller is heightened by the zero gravity environment that the film is set within, said Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays a military veteran doctor on board the ISS. The cast spent the majority of the film shoot suspended on harnesses to emulate how astronauts move without gravity.

“You never really know what’s up and what’s down,” Gyllenhaal said. “A horror film and a thriller where you don’t know where that next thing is coming, it makes it four or five times more terrifying.”

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Andrew Hay

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