In 1979 Ridley Scott warned us: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” He introduced us to a creature whose entire life cycle is horrifying and became one of the most iconic monsters in movie history. Now, almost 40 years later, his warning is far simpler and just as anxiety-inducing: “RUN.” While the Alien franchise has since parted from its pure horror roots into a much more action driven narrative, Alien: Covenant promises to go back to its original fear inducing ways. After Prometheus’s less than stellar reception, does the newest installment revitalize a waning franchise or is it “game over, man” for the terrifying xenomorph?
After prematurely waking up, the crew of a colonization ship receive a transmission of a human voice. The transmission is coming from a planet significantly closer and far more suitable for sustaining life than the one they were headed for. While searching for the source of the signal and exploring the planet, the crew unleashes and gets attacked by a pair of vicious, unknown lifeforms. The android David, Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocalypse), the last survivor of the Prometheus Expedition, saves them and takes them to where he’s been living for the past decade. From there on, the remaining crew members must figure out the truth behind the fate of the planet, the origin of these monster, and most importantly try to survive long enough to be rescued.
This is what a horror movie is supposed to be. For many years now, I have said that I am not a fan of horror films. That isn’t 100% accurate. Saying I am not a fan of what Horror has become is much more truthful. I love movies like Alien, Jaws, Terminator, Predator, films that actually instill fear. I don’t like gore (just because it’s too gross for me to watch doesn’t make it scary) and jump-scares are a one-trick-pony (if your method of fear is only as complex as a jack-in-the-box, I’m not sure why I should care). Alien: Covenant plays on the nature of fear and what it truly is to be a monster. Tapping into the deepest darkest places in your mind, Ridley Scott fills the audience with anxiety, suspense, trust issues, survival instinct, and fear of the unknown to create a true sense of horror. Add in an extremely talented cast (Michael Fassbender is great in everything and Danny McBride (East Bound and Down) impresses in a roll far more serious than any other movie I’ve seen him in) and you have the makings of a great horror film.
Unfortunately some of the “twists” are a bit predictable, particularly if you’ve seen the rest of the films in the franchise. Although this does add a sense of “NO!!! DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR,” I prefer to be blindsided by a startling revelation or a “HOLY SHIT” moment. Even being sold as a more direct prequel to Alien than Prometheus was, I feel like we need at least one more film to bridge the gap between Alien: Covenant and the original horror classic. I still have more questions and I demand answers.