The marketing for Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant is ratcheting up in typically cryptic style, with a steady stream of photographs from the set teasing a very bloody picture of what audiences can expect from this latest entry into the Alien saga. Here are the latest from the studio.
'That's Inside The Room'
This particular gory shot spells game over for some unlucky member of the crew. There's a gurney/bed in the background with a splatter of blood at chest-height, with a puddle on the floor and splashes on the glass showing that this patient isn't going to take their chestbursting sequence lying down.
Ridley Scott has his work cut out for him if he wants to one-up the infamous cesarean scene from Prometheus, which was a claustrophobic nightmare of lucid self-surgery — that sentence alone makes me gag. This particular victim seems to have opted for a more traditional birth than Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), with this shot screaming back to the original sequence from Alien, which stunned audiences and crew members alike.
This scene worked so well because of Scott's masterful control of suspense and pacing. It's the perfect payoff for long atmospheric shots of surreal alien architecture, industrial corridors, and futuristic technology.
Meanwhile, @AlienAnthology treated Twitter followers to a glimpse of the cryostasis chambers on the Covenant, which hangs the crew vertically like coats in a wardrobe. It's a creepy, voyeuristic glance into life aboard this colonial ship, with a definite 'calm before the storm' vibe.
Retro-futuristic technology like this establishes a believable, lived-in world, but the truly suspenseful shots were always those that sent us into a new world entirely.
Don't Go Into The Light
Much of the horror associated with the Alien saga comes from H.R. Geiger's eerie designs. Whether it's the phallic, salivating mouth of the Xenomorph, or the creepy architecture that blends a futuristic look with something you might find in a catacombs. While it isn't exactly a look at something new, this particular corridor could easily lead through the very ship that Elizabeth and David commandeered at the end of Prometheus:
Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.
Ever since Ash (the immense Ian Holme) manipulated the Nostromo crew in Alien, there's been a sinister undertone to the synthetics of the series. The quiet and unassuming nature of Bishop in James Cameron's Aliens leaves us questioning his loyalty for almost the entirety of the movie. And the idea that David has survived alone begs the question: what's happened to Elizabeth?
No Body? No Problem
When we last saw David he was just a head in a bag, with only his passive-aggressive sass left for comfort. This latest shot from the movie is more cerebral, with its stark white surroundings separating David from the grit and gore.
He's doing well enough for himself in this apparent "paradise," even if his choice of decor does leave something to be desired. It's suitably sterile, with that straight-backed, bare-footed pose seeming distinctly unnatural.
This image is more reminiscent of the cerebral atmosphere that divided opinions on Prometheus. Fans who were expecting a straight-up horror-action romp were disappointed by the loftier aspects of the movie, which dealt with the origins of life and the search for meaning. Ridley Scott was initially hesitant to call Prometheus a prequel to Alien, with Alien: Covenant initially titled Prometheus: Paradise Lost. It looks as though Alien: Covenant will mend the rift between the two sides of the saga by balancing the cerebral with the visceral. The precise mix for success here seems to be: one part religious postulating to three parts bloody fan-service.
What's most significant about this image is what's missing. Each previous picture was released with a string of numbers, and theories pointed towards a code counting down to the imminent release of a trailer. This shot, however, was released only to a string of dashes. What this means is anyone's guess, but it attaches an emphasis to David that's difficult to ignore. Could it be that he's the real villain of this movie?
The Xenomorph has always been a creature of pure instinct and survival. The true villains have always been Weyland Yutani. David was a surrogate son to Mr. Weyland himself. Is the recently orphaned synthetic secretly carrying on his father's work in this paradise lost? If so, then Elizabeth would be his only human host — until the arrival of the Covenant.
Alien: Covenant releases on May 17th, and the trailer is sure to drop at some point over the holidays. Until have a very merry Christmas.