Whenever people ask what is the proper way to watch the Alien movies in order, I tell them to start with the 1979 original, move on to James Cameron’s 1986 sequel, Aliens, and then stop. That should tell you everything you need to know about my own personal feelings for the franchise overall. However, upon recent news, I might be open to the possibility of changing my answer.
A new installment of the Alien franchise is in the works and, while I would normally be a little apprehensive about it, knowing this upcoming Hulu movie will be a standalone from writer and director Fede Álvarez actually has me kind of excited. I mean, if anybody can pull off an impressive reinvention of this sci-fi/horror classic, I believe it is the man behind one of my favorite horror reboots ever - 2013’s Evil Dead. I don’t want to tell Mr. Álvarez how to do his job, but I do have a few ideas of how this new flick could really pop like a chest burster. In fact, why don’t we start with the main creature itself?
A Whole New Take On The Xenomorph Design
The Alien movies have given us all kinds of different creatures to keep us up at night, including a few diverse variations of its central antagonist: the Xenomorph. The blood-thirsty and acid-blooded extra-terrestrial has gone through an interesting evolution that involved some truly unique crossbreeds with human DNA in 1997’s Alien: Resurrection and also that of the titular creature from the Predator movies. I think Fede Álvarez’s new chapter should stick with tradition.
I would love to see Hulu’s Alien movie get more creative with the Xenomorph than ever before, with a design that would hopefully deviate from the original more than the creature from the climax of Alien: Covenant did, for instance. Yet, one thing I did like about that film, which was Ridley Scott’s 2017 Prometheus follow-up, was the way they flipped the script on the chest burster and instead had a new creature called a Neomorph emerge from one unlucky man’s back. Perhaps that could inspire Álvarez to imagine what other ways the Xenomorph could make its grand entrance in his film.
A Return Of Alien’s Signature Atmospheric Tone
One thing I did not care so much for about Alien: Covenant - as well as 2012’s Prometheus - was how far they seemed to divert from the genre that started it all: horror. Now, don’t get me wrong: I think it was a brilliant decision on James Cameron’s part to give the franchise a fresh spin and make Aliens more of an action thriller (leading to one of the best ‘80s movies as a result). However, it would also set a precedent for most of the subsequent films to aim bigger in scope and spectacle, losing sight of what made the original a classic.
Admittedly, this is probably my bias as a fan of horror movies, but I really want to see the Alien movies become a horror franchise again (or, more accurately, a sci-fi/horror hybrid), especially to see the revitalization of the quiet, minimalistic tone that made it so hauntingly suspenseful in the first place. Thus, I am glad that Hulu has one of the genre’s most talented filmmakers working today at the helm, and the director of the original, Ridley Scott, producing. I think putting their heads together will result in the right kind of jump start in terror the series could grandly benefit from.
A Return Of Fede Álvarez’s Signature Graphic Vision
Proof that Fede Álvarez is the perfect choice to resurrect the original Alien movie’s signature atmospheric tone lies in his 2016 sleeper hit, Don’t Breathe. This reverse take on the home invasion thriller (which spawned a sequel in 2021) about three young thieves trapped in a seeing-impaired war veteran’s house is a heart-stopping exercise in suspense in which the tension is most high in its quietest moments - much like Alien. However, honestly, I am not as excited for his Alien movie because of his achievement with Don’t Breathe as I am because of his achievement with another film.
Speaking as someone whose favorite horror movie of all time is Sam Raimi’s 1981 low-budget cult classic, The Evil Dead, Álvarez's 2013 reimagining was so much better than it ever deserved to be. The secret was a fresh new take on the plot, a few honorable tributes to the franchise's most iconic moments, and, most importantly, relentlessly brutal gore brought to life with as many practical effects as possible. With a decent balance of what made Don’t Breathe a masterpiece in simplicity and Evil Dead a masterpiece in exploitation, this new Alien movie could be the best of both worlds and the most gloriously insane in the franchise yet.
Jane Levy As The Lead Hero
Outside of the skin-crawling violence of Evil Dead and the chilling suspense of Don’t Breathe, a most essential component to the success of either was Jane Levy. Her leading performances in both films are so raw and believable that, while I am happy it led to her finding stardom on the musical rom-com, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and its holiday movie follow-up, I am kind of bummed she did not become a more prominent Scream Queen. Well, what better way to revive her horror icon status than a reunion with her boy, Fede?
I believe that the former Suburgatory star would be a fantastic choice to lead the cast of Hulu’s Alien movie. Even fans of her non-horror work would agree that she has the charisma to single-handedly carry a film, and fans of her horror-centric work would agree she has more than enough experience to endure the terror that would befall her. With Jane Levy in the spotlight, I think it would help audiences warm up to the idea of Sigourney Weaver’s absence, which brings me to my final point.
Honor The Promise Of Making It A Standalone
To be clear, I believe Sigourney Weaver (who earned her Oscar nomination for reprising Ellen Ripley in Aliens) is the heart and soul of the franchise and have missed her presence in it, along with that of the unjustly killed off Newt (Carrie Henn) and Michael Biehn as Hicks. However, I am not necessarily gunning for Fede Álvarez’s new film to be some Halloween-style retcon that sees their return, which almost became a reality with Neil Blompkamp at the helm. In fact, 20th Century president Steve Asbell’s promises of a new story “with a bunch of characters you haven’t seen before” to The Hollywood Reporter is what really got me interested in the upcoming film.
As I said before, I personally became less amused by the Alien movies as they continued past the second installment and, to be frank, I think that straying as far away from the original franchise’s timeline as possible is in this new chapter’s best interest. I feel there is no need to wedge in any tongue-in-cheek references to iconic moments from the original films, any appearances by previous cast members, or really anything that would connect it to its predecessors outside of the Xenomorph. All Álvarez needs to do with his contribution to the series’ legacy, as far as I am concerned, is to keep it original.
For the purposes of being unique, I would actually be up for the idea of bringing the Xenomorph to Earth, like they did with the Alien vs. Predator movies, but still figure out a way to keep it tight and contained. Then again, for that reason, space is probably the best setting possible for an Alien movie. Thus, I am looking forward to seeing what new places in the universe Fede Álvarez will take us with this Hulu original thriller.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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