While Ridley Scott does load his movie up with the same amount of intriguing and ambiguous philosophy behind the xenomorphs, he still pleases with a slasher story involving aliens. There is genuine terror when a xenomorph lurks in the shadows, striking down its prey with bloody and gory results. Classic slasher rules apply where two colonists have a shower together, only for their cleansing to be interrupted when an alien creeps inside for the kill.
However, classic slasher rules also imply that characters must make mistakes to get to these kills and, while there is less ineptitude than there was in Prometheus, one colonist makes one very slapstick mistake that leads to the accidental death of three people. And while I love the way Scott sets up the horror and sci-fi elements, he’s not very skilled at revealing some surprises, especially for a stinger of a twist that is telegraphed too early.
Ridley Scott does finally give the fans what they want in an Alien movie with plenty of xenomorph action, but never tries to dumb down or repeat himself for the sake of nostalgia. Yes, Katherine Waterston’s character will become the female soldier that Sigourney Weaver once portrayed, but she earns that title through some original and smart sequences where she bests aliens with machinery. The music by Jed Kurzel, while still featuring twinges of the original Alien score, sets the perfect atmosphere; scenes in space feel epic and amazing, as the horror scenes in dark caves and cramped corridors feel creepy and foreboding.
The whole movie is just a brilliant mixture of high-concept science fiction and good old-fashioned monster flick frights. If nearly every movie franchise must be dug up and repurposed for a new generation of audiences, it’s refreshing to know that Scott is at the helm of Alien with intriguing theology, great visuals and lots of gory excitement, never content to just repeat the old alien-out-of-the-chest bit without something more to say. And there is plenty for his characters to say with grander themes on the table; you know, when they’re not screaming for their lives.