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Why Scaring The Crap Out Of Audiences Is The Hardest Thing To Do, According To Ridley Scott

Katherine Waterston looking badass in Alien Covenant

There's no question that horror is one of the most unique film genres in existence. It is a genre that can excel on a meager budget and with minimal A-list talent, and yet it requires the utmost skill to get right. On that note, Ridley Scott is one of the few Hollywood directors to consistently prove himself as a master of scare over the years, and the Alien: Covenant director recently admitted that inducing scares is the hardest aspect of being a filmmaker because of how desensitized audiences have become to horror. Scott elaborated:

It's the hardest thing to do. Comedians will disagree, but I think it's easier to make people laugh than to really, really scare the shit out of somebody. We've seen so much, we get a little bit numb to what should be scary. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

While we are sure that Ridley Scott's recent comments to Variety likely won't sit well with certain comedy masters out there, he makes a point. The things that scare us have not changed all that much over the years, but the intensity of which those scares are depicted on the silver screen has. As audiences encounter more intense forms of onscreen horror year after year, a horror filmmaker's job becomes harder and harder. It is all about escalation; once you have seen a brutal chestburster scene take place, that particular scare will not work as well in the future unless someone finds a way to make it even scarier. The nature of horror requires filmmakers to innovate and try new things consistently, and that can become incredibly taxing over the course of a lengthy Hollywood career.

You can see that evolution in the differences between Alien and Alien: Covenant. While both films are incredibly violent (and extremely scary), it is evident from the trailers alone that Ridley Scott has dialed up the intensity in Covenant by a considerable margin. The Xenomorph used to stalk its prey from the shadows; now it is out in broad daylight, hissing and snarling like a rabid cat on amphetamines. It is a massive change, and it's an utterly terrifying transition for a modern horror fan.

Alien Covenant Xenomorph

Forced to contend with the increasingly visceral tastes of modern moviegoers, Scott evolved his franchise and crafted something that continues to capture the spirit of the first Alien movie in 1979, but feels intense and fresh in a way that he never could've achieved back when he made his original sci-fi horror masterpiece. That ability to adapt has resulted in a long and fruitful career, but it has also forced him to change his methods over the years. With more Alien sequels on the way, we will have to wait and see what he does next.

Alien: Covenant premieres in theaters on May 19. Make sure to take a look at our 2017 movie premiere guide for more information concerning the rest of this year's most highly anticipated theatrical debuts!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.