This year 20th Century Fox is doing it’s due diligence to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic sci-fi horror films of all time: “Alien.” And while some of the stuff they’ve tried to push (*cough*”Alien: Isolation”*cough*) has left me feeling lukewarm, their latest endeavor may have finally done right by the property.
Last year Fox launched a contest where six directors would be chosen to bring their ideas for Alien-inspired short films to life. Over 500 people entered the contest, but ultimately the six chosen winners were Noah Miller, Chris Reading, Benjamin Howdeshell, Aidan Breznick, Kelsey Taylor, and the Spear Sisters.
This Fox invited me down to their studio lot to check out the short films. I won’t be reviewing them all, as I don’t want to risk spoiling the shorts, but I will provide some general thoughts about what I saw.
One of the best things about the shorts is that they all manage to capture the aesthetic of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film. Aside from some necessary computer effects, the bulk of these shorts rely heavily on practical effects and manage to capture that weird retro future where everything looked grimy and the technology looks like it belongs in the mid-80s. The unified look makes it so that all the films look like they belong in the same universe.
Speaking of practical effects, I want to also point out that these shorts are taking inspiration from “Alien” and not “Aliens.” So that should inform you how much of the Xenomorph is present in the films. Don’t expect crazy space marine battles. Instead most of the films are tense cat and mouse chases with some nice gore splattered here and there.
Overall, I have to say that the majority of the shorts are really strong outings and present unique ideas and concepts that haven’t really been explored in the films. Some present a slice of life of other blue collar workers in the “Alien” universe like the miners in “Alien: Ore.” Others offer an examination of the synthetics and present them in diverse new lights. Each film has something different to show and even the weakest among is still entertaining to watch.
The shorts will begin premiering this Friday on IGN. Be on the lookout for them and definitely be sure to check them out. They’re free, so you got nothing to lose.