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Life Has a Lot of Gross Deaths, But Which Is the Grossest?

Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson in Life. Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures/© 2016 CTMG, Inc.

The new space movie Life begins with the discovery of life on Mars, but that’s just a prelude for a lot of very gross, very bloody deaths. Whether they’re drowning in antifreeze or being eaten by the extraterrestrial life form known as Calvin, none of the six astronauts on the International Space Station are safe. After sitting (and gnawing at our fingernails) through death after death, here is a ranking of which ones are gross, very gross, and extremely gross. (As you may have guessed, this post contains spoilers for Life.)

Sorta Gross

Hiroyuki Sanada (Sho Murakami)
Sho has a tumble with Calvin long before he actually dies. When the alien’s grown into what looks like his final form — with tentacles and face and eye holes — Sho encloses himself in the sleep pods for safety and the two of them have a pretty creepy stare down. Still, since his wife’s just had a baby, you know he’s going to die sometime, and die he does: When he thinks the coast is clear, he tries to head to an escape pod, only it turns out the pod’s job is to send the entire space station into the wild blue yonder forever. There’s an entire action sequence that’s pretty incomprehensible, but the upshot is that Sho gets eaten by Calvin and also sucked into the vacuum of space. It’s pretty terrible, but since it’s hard to tell what’s going on, the horror is lessened somewhat.

Very Gross

Ariyon Bakare (Hugh Derry)
Hugh is the crew’s scientist, and he considers himself a father figure to Calvin. Unfortunately, Calvin doesn’t feel the same way. First, little baby Calvin breaks his hand in the course of escaping from his cage. Gross? Yes. But Calvin can get grosser.

At a crucial moment, Hugh spots Calvin hiding in the shadows, and says nothing to the rest of the crew. (In fact, he refuses to get mad at Calvin for killing the crew. Parents, am I right?) That doesn’t make his death any less gross: Calvin kills Hugh by crawling into his mouth. Director Daniel Espinosa films it in a such a way where it you can’t exactly see Calvin squeezing all of Hugh’s internal organs, but you know it’s happening.

Olga Dihovichnaya (Ekaterina Golvkina)
Vessel captain Kat Golovkina gets one of the more creative deaths in the movie. When the space station is cut off from communicating with Earth, Captain Kat slides into a spacesuit and goes out to get communication back online. Unfortunately, Calvin’s out there, too, and he catches onto her suit, gripping her body and crawling up her back. He can’t get in, can he? Well, he needs oxygen to survive, so he breaks into her antifreeze stock, which floods into her suit and slowly drowns her. This death isn’t as bloody as the others, but it’s weird to watch her skin turn the exact same shade of blue as Leo’s at the end of Titanic.

Cover Your Eyes, Hide in Your Scarf, Shake Your Head No, Is It Too Late to Buy Tickets for Song to Song Gross

Ryan Reynolds (Rory Adams)
Ryan Reynolds gets the distinct honor of being the first to die in Life. That’s right: Now that Deadpool was a hit, Ryan Reynolds is a big enough star to get that surprise early death. He can pick up his check, and make it home in time to catch up on Big Little Lies. Calvin is still pretty small when he kills dashing astronaut Rory Adams, who’s taken a flamethrower to the station’s lab in an attempt to kill the thing. Since we’re only half an hour into the movie, it’s clear this won’t end well: The flamethrower has no effect, and it runs out of fuel. Then — and this is where it gets gross — Calvin slinks into Rory’s mouth.

What you can see: the outline of Calvin’s amorphous body slithering under the skin of Ryan Reynolds’ face. What you can’t see: the demented Flubber snapping his ribs, clenching his heart, wriggling up and down his abdomen. The camera focuses on Reynolds, his eyes bloodshot, face twisted in torture. It’s like he’s suffocating from the inside at first, until he coughs up some blood. The blood just sits there, suspended in air. And then there’s more. And more. So much blood. And just like that, Rory Adams is no more. But the grossness doesn’t just end there. What’s that? Oh yes: His entire head simultaneously explodes and implodes. Reynolds is left floating in zero gravity. One shoulder is up near his ear and the other is in its regular position, like he was stopped mid-jig.

Honorable Mentions

Jake Gyllenhaal (David Jordan)
I know what you’re thinking: Jake Gyllenhaal is the star here, presumably he makes it through Life’s twisty plot without dying. As Annette Bening would say: yes and no. Every character onboard the mission has one defining characteristic, and David Jordan’s is that he likes Goodnight Moon and doesn’t like Earth. He’s broken the record for consecutive days in space, and he doesn’t really want to come down. He’s technically still alive when the movie ends, but considering he’s trapped in an escape pod with Calvin that’s just landed on Earth, you’ve got to figure that he’s pretty dead inside.

Rebecca Ferguson (Miranda North)
Miranda North doesn’t die onscreen, but the movie’s last-minute escape-pod switcheroo makes it clear how she’ll die: alone, somewhere in deep space. Not gross, just a bummer — second billing gets you killed off offscreen.

All of us folks on Earth
So yes, despite all these astronaut’s best efforts (well, best-ish efforts) Calvin ends up on Earth, where we can assume he preys on the innocent Asian fishermen who find his pod and then, everyone else on Earth. Not a gross death, but also kind of a bummer.

Life Has a Lot of Gross Deaths, But Which Is the Grossest?