Twentieth Century Fox showcases four of the six new shorts they’ve commissioned to celebrate four decades of chest-bursting terror.
Alien came to theaters 40 years ago, and Twentieth Century Fox Films is commemorating the anniversary with Alien: Anthology, a series of 6 shorts from upcoming talent set in the Alien universe. In advance of their digital release beginning March 29th, four of the six were shown on Saturday morning at C2E2. (Considering these shorts dropped the same day the Internet exploded at the prospect of a high school production’s incredible staging of
A capacity crowd of 2,800 gathered in the con’s main stage. Some children remained, even after ample warnings. Around half a dozen Cher Horowitzes were set to enjoy the show while they held their seats for the Clueless reunion panel that would follow. Then, the lights went down, and the screen lit up with the work of writers and directors who are all younger than the film they paid tribute to. (Plot spoilers ahead for some of the upcoming shorts, so reader beware.)
“Containment” begins and ends in haunting images. Abstract swirls fill the frame, revealed to be the atmosphere of a ringed gas giant planet. A ship enters the frame on the bottom right. Its name and vital statistics flash in the upper left. Before you’ve finished reading the ship has broken to pieces, and you notice it happened while your attention was drawn elsewhere; thousands of lives lost in the short moment it takes to number them. An escape capsule slowly emerges from the pieces of wreckage, a crew member (Gaia Weiss) using her own blood to write “DO NOT OPEN” on the window as a ship docks with them – ready to start the now-familiar cycle again.
The minutes in-between are also familiar but well-executed. The paranoia, the conflict between the utilitarian greater good and the ethical weight of killing, a surprise
Alien: Night Shift
A pair of space truckers have a layover at a desolate mining
If “Containment” is an epilogue to an unmade feature, and “Night Shift” is a prologue, “Harvest” is the action climax. The final four survivors (Jessica Clark, Agnes Albright, Adam Sinclair, James C Burns) of a comet-skimming ship try to reach an escape capsule before their ship crashes, or the Xenomorph in the halls tears them to pieces. The hallways are dressed with an obvious love for the sets of the Nostromo, and the escape plan relies entirely on using a motion tracker to route a safe course. The setup, obstacles, and final reversal remind the viewer of Alien’s other legacy: as a video game franchise.
This is the short for people who love Alien because Alien has lots of really cool stuff in it. It’s not for anybody who would wonder why white, milky blood is presented as the reason a character would be a turncoat. But then this is a 40th anniversary celebration, not a 40th anniversary introduction.
“Alone” delivers exactly what I was hoping to see from the Anthology: people using elements of the mythology to tell new stories examine the franchise under new lenses. Unfortunately, Lyons’ performance is a weak spot, her character a lifeless automaton compared to the highs of the Alien series’ iconic android characters. Of course, it may not be fair to compare anyone to the rare talents of Ian Holm and Michael Fassbender. Even so, “Alone” is
Attendees of WonderCon in Anaheim will be the first to see the other two shorts on March 30th, before the entire thing goes live on official Alien socials starting May 3rd.