Still, nobody saw that ending coming, right?
One of the real treats of Life is that even though you can reduce the movie to its influences, it still manages to be mostly unpredictable. That's especially true of its semi-insane ending.
With nearly everybody in the crew decimated, Ferguson and Gyllenhaal's characters concoct a scheme involving the ship's escape pods to ensure Calvin won't reach Earth. Ferguson goes one way, hoping to escape to the planet's surface, while Gyllenhaal supposedly sacrifices himself by trapping Calvin in the pod while rocketing away to deep space and certain death.
Except… not. The escape pod thrusters send Ferguson to die alone in outer space while Calvin ends up consuming Gyllenhaal as their pod splashes down in the middle of the ocean on Earth. Cut to black, hopefully leaving the audience speechless. It was always meant to be that way.
"It's shocking how little the script changed from first draft to completed movie," Reese said. "It's probably the least amount of changes out of any script we've ever done." He applauded Columbia Pictures' willingness to be supportive about the Rory character's early death, and the downbeat ending that assumes all life on Earth is doomed.
"There's always this idea that movies have to have happy endings, but to us it was less bleak than it was interesting," Wernick said, while Reese continued: "An ending doesn't have to be happy to be satisfying. As long as it's a satisfying ending that logically makes sense within the confines of the story then it should work. For life to flourish, other life had to be destroyed. That's the cruel paradox we really wanted to end on."
But that isn't necessarily the end. Reese and Wernick confirmed the ending was meant to set up a possible sequel.