Life Like is what you get when you take a sexy, sci-fi, erotic thriller and remove the thrills and most of the sex and dumb down the sci-fi. What plods along for most of the 90min running time is a muted exploration of humanity before it completely loses the plot with an utterly ridiculous twist ending.
When a super-rich couple buys an experimental android to help them out around their mansion, things start to unravel. As they each project their wishes on the handsome helper, they end up revealing the cracks in their own relationship. Sophie (Addison Timlin) objects to a female helper, so they chose Henry (Steven Strait, The Expanse). While her husband James (Drew Van Acker, Pretty Little Liars) is at work, Sophie starts to explore just how close to human Henry really is. From giving him literature to read and discuss, to questioning his own ultimate desires in life. Meanwhile Henry seems to be subtly manipulating the couple…
Sadly the film never really gets off the starting block when it comes to exploring Henry’s humanity or the effect he has on Sophie and James. On pretty much every level, Life Like fails to go further than skin deep. Henry seeds dischord in the relationship, seducing them both in turn. But unlike films like Ex Machina there is no real masterplan, no tension to the seduction to be anything more than titillation. This is basically a 90s direct-to-video erotic-thriller in concept, but with high brow intentions.
Director Josh Janowicz captures the action with a cold, static eye. Maybe it was a budgetary restraint but the lack of close-ups or camera moves in some scenes is striking, with action happening just off camera for no discernible reason. Just as the script lacks depth, the direction feels perfunctory.
The film does pick up with a sexy, bathroom seduction, as Henry tries to get James to see him as more than just a simple machine. The scene gives us some great eye-candy, and an interesting twist, but as they say, “one swallow doesn’t make a summer” (pun intended).
When the highlight of a film is a bit of bum and some fantastic locations, you know things are pretty grim. Combine all this with an an ending that defies all logic, Life Like is D.O.A..
By Chad Armstrong
Life Like was released in 2019 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment and is available on VOD platforms, DVD and Blu-ray.