Alien (Scott, 1979)

Ridley Scott’s no-nonsense phase of filmmaking includes a variety of focused genre films dealing with the mixing and meshing of conventions (The Duelists, Blade Runner, and Alien), easily outclassing almost every project he’s done since. Nowadays, Scott is known more for his blatant prestige pictures like Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Thelma and Louise, bloated projects aided by all the cinematic trimmings with the sole purpose of zeroing in on Oscars. Alien might be the standout of the aforementioned early group, engaging Science Fiction and Horror on a primal level, where survival becomes the only necessary aesthetic. Watching this film again it’s clear the screenplay, with its toned dialogue and tight pacing, is utterly confident with character and plot, letting Scott focus almost entirely on exploring the dark, slimy mise-en-scene. The cramped interiors of the spaceship Nostromo have become the standard for creepy space movies and Scott utilizes his set design expertly. Alien doesn’t rely on cheap scare tactics to produce the glaring emotional response it’s looking for. No, the unseen acid monster stirring in the cavernous interiors of space speaks for itself.

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