Note: This article contains spoilers for Life. Ever since Georges Méliès' A Trip to the Moon graced the silver screen in 1902, filmmakers have been obsessed with the concept of alien life. Over a century of space-related movies, the audience has been provided with a variety of aliens that have ranged from cute, docile, hyper-intelligent and ultra-violent. In 2017, Daniel Espinosa's Life has given us "Calvin," a life-form that turned out to be of the ultra-violent variety, to say the least.
Despite the movie's familiar tropes, viewers were genuinely shocked after seeing Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) landing on Earth as Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) floats off into space. As the camera pans out, we can only imagine the horror that is about to be unleashed now that the "all muscle, all brain, all eye" monster has made his way onto our planet.
Due to this open-ended conclusion and the writers' connection to a shelved Venom script, fans had already started speculating about Life being a prequel to the recently announced Venom movie. Another round of speculation suggests that Calvin might be a primitive version of the monster from Cloverfield. But as soon as the writers began their round of interviews, all fan speculation was laid to rest.
Even though writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have shot down any connections between #Life and Venom, this shouldn't completely preclude the idea of a sequel. In fact, the impact of the film's closing moments has Dr. Miranda screaming for a sequel, all the way from outer space.
In an interview with IGN, the writing team expressed their desire to do a follow-up that would chronicle the aftermath of the events on the International Space Station, with Reese saying:
"Absolutely. You know, part of the fun of the first movie is that they think they have it contained and then it breaking out, and then again they think they have it contained and again it breaks out. You know, we think that little cycle could definitely repeat itself on Earth, as the military and governments of the world try to contain this thing before it spreads. And now, you know, it’s in the ocean and good luck there. But yeah, we would love to pursue it beyond this if it’s a success, so we’ll have to hope people go see the movie!"
While the similarities between Alien and Life are striking, this can be a blessing in disguise. Espinosa has done a marvelous job of fleshing out the intricacies of Calvin, and because of that the possible sequel doesn't have to delve into the details of the alien, but can instead focus on the characters. During an interview with THR, Reese discussed the idea of the sequel being in line with James Cameron's Aliens:
"Just the fact that Calvin can now possibly reproduce, I think, is an interesting idea. We've dropped him in a situation that is teaming with life to hunt and to eat. That being the ocean, or the coast of Indonesia or Vietnam or wherever we are saying he's landed. So that opens it up right there. But just the idea of firewalls could extend to Earth in the sense that now they've failed to contain Calvin to the station. The question is, how would the Earth react? Obviously, this was an international effort, so there are a lot of countries cooperating. And again, they would be trying to contain this thing from moving forward and yet there might be more Calvins to deal with. To us, that screams interesting sequel."
Pitting the flesh-eating, ever-intelligent Calvin against Earth's humans can certainly pave the way for bloodcurdling deaths and adrenaline-pumping action sequences. As Life also boasts a considerable amount of gore, the sequel is a great opportunity to explore the body-horror genre and follow the likes of The Thing, They Live and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Calvin is described as an ever-adapting being and the concept of it controlling its host is horrifying. But how will Calvin progress, if given the opportunity with a sequel? While referring to the end of the third act, Reese contemplated the extent to which Calvin could adapt in order to survive:
"I don't think we envisioned him as a higher intelligence, but we did envision him as very, very adaptive and just hard to kill. A survival machine, essentially. When we wrote it, I don't think we intended for the idea to be that the creature figured out that the stick, if it pushed it that direction, would go down to Earth, but rather that he [Gyllenhaal's character] needed to keep his hand on that stick in order to complete the maneuver and the creature was just overwhelming him and that he was not able to hold on and it autopiloted down. That was the idea, though I think in the shooting of it, there definitely came an ambiguity there, where you started to wonder. Someone says in the movie, 'How smart is this thing?' and I think it's certainly open to interpretation."
Calvin's unidentified level of intelligence is a surefire hit when it comes to creating nail-biting drama, and this aspect of the otherworldly alien's character is something that should be explored. While Ryan Reynolds' Re-Animator reference in the film may have been an overlooked moment, Calvin might also be invading earthlings to bring about a skewed sense of unity. With a sequel not yet on the cards, the writers have so many avenues to ramp up the tension and remind audiences just how terrifying an alien invasion movie can be.