Cinema Stoner: Life & Honey Bananas

The weed came three hours late by a heavyset man wearing all camouflage. Only one option today—Honey Bananas, an indicadominant hybrid that “provides weighty, full-body effects coupled with an invigorating buzz of cerebral euphoria.”

A fitting pair for Daniel Espinosa’s Life, a space horror angling to be this generation’s Event Horizon. I hate indica like Jake Gyllenhaal hates space parasites. Why not amp up the terror with the utter paranoia and heavy body effects of this gasoline weed?

“That felt like one long heart attack,” my lover said as the credits of Life rolled. She was right.

Unaccustomed to seeing movies where aliens chase character-actors through spaceships, she watched most of Life through her scarf, her eyes sometimes buried in my shoulder as greasy tentacles burst through various human orifices. 

Under the influence of Honey Bananas, I could barely look away from the screen, my gaze locked on each protracted death of a handsome celebrity. Shot with just enough style in steely blues and austere whites by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, Life completely absorbed me, meeting the ferocious low-end of the marijuana with a gorgeously absorbing series of brutally cleansing imagery.

The set-up is familiar. A team of scientists orbiting Earth catch a satellite carrying a microscopic life form. An overly curious biologist (Ariyon Bakare) develops an unhealthy attachment with the growing alien, then realizes far too late the motives of any creature flung from space. 

“It doesn’t hate us,” a cool-faced Bakare says into Gyllenhaal’s sea-green eyes, “but it has to kill us to survive.”

Aside from a few scenes, Life impressively takes place entirely in its space-station setting with a small but diverse six-person cast. Their personalities depend on your association with each star. Like its prototype Alien, Life spares no time giving these characters much back story. (Ask me who Ryan Reynolds played? He played Ryan Reynolds.)

Not that it matters.

After a creaky, exposition-heavy opening, Life swiftly hunts down its cast, ramping up the terror with each new set piece involving humans trapped in inhospitable environments while an unstoppable monster devours them one-by-one. 

The gut-punch ending—one of the most pessimistic conclusions to a genre film since last year’s Witch—drew spontaneous applause from the audience at our screening. We wandered outside dazed, avoiding the claustrophobia of the subway, walking 20 blocks to Chinatown. I ate squid curry, then went home. 

Walking into my bedroom after the movie, the real horror began. My heart still racing from the weed, I thought to myself: I can’t calm down. I sat down and told myself to calm down. Then I imagined myself lying down telling myself to calm down. And the thought of that made me anxious.

Life will scare you senseless, but Honey Bananas may make you feel the true effects of being chased through space.


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