cinemacl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the most original, suspenseful & terrifying films you're ever going to come across, Ridley Scott's breakthrough feature is a masterful blend of imagination, art direction, set design, special effects, unsettling score, perfect cast, outstanding performances & quality storytelling, and is an extraordinary achievement in the genre of both horror & science-fiction which today is universally hailed as one of the greatest films ever made.
Alien follows a seven members crew en-route to Earth aboard a huge commercial ship when their journey is interrupted by what appears to be a distress signal from a desolate planet. When the crew lands to investigate, they discover a deadly life form which breeds within a human host. And so begins the horror... the horror of an extremely aggressive extra-terrestrial creature that begins to stalk & kill them one by one.
Ingeniously directed by Ridley Scott, it is his brilliant use of atmospheric visuals & breathtaking details in addition to strong emphasis on realism over movie heroics that bestows Alien an ageless appeal. Cleverly script by Dan O'Bannon, his vision of the monster and the futuristic world he sets the plot in is nothing short of breathtaking. And H.R. Giger's design of the monster is an exceptional feat in itself, for the creature is truly a unique & original fusion of insect, man & machine.
Cinematography & editing is carried out remarkably well and integrates effortlessly with other aspects of this film. The cast works together as a team with welcome maturity and it was pleasing to see each & every one of them getting equal importance as it provided viewers a bunch of very believable & convincing figures to get behind. And in a cast that features Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm & John Hurt, it is Weaver who ends up leaving the most lasting impression of them all.
The most exceptional thing about this film however is its persistent attention on suspense over mindless gore & graphic kills and of course, its steady pacing that separates the film from typical slasher entries. Alien actually takes its time and waits until the audience is fully immersed & invested in its world and is at its scariest when nothing is happening as Scott allows plenty of space for our imaginations to run wild and, with added help from Jerry Goldsmith's tense score, he turns nearly every frame into a potential nightmare scenario.
On an overall scale, by bringing together the silence of 2001: A Space Odyssey to create suspense and the horror of Jaws by not showing but not ruling out the presence of the monster either, Alien succeeds in invoking an incredibly dark, moody & unique atmosphere that constantly provides a feeling of uneasiness throughout its runtime. A genre-defining masterpiece, a genuine fright classic, and an unprecedented fusion of art, science & horror, Alien is a distillation of everything that scares us in the movies. One hundred percent recommended.