Alien ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality."

The above quote is spoken about the titular creature in Ridley Scott's Alien, but it might as well apply to the film itself; free of any needless complications, it doesn't concern itself with unnecessary details about the future it depicts, throwaway backstories, or needless romances between the characters, and, while all of that may make it sound thin on paper, on film, it results in a Horror offering that's unparalleled in its use of thick atmosphere, slow pacing, and, er, "alien" environments and concepts to instill a sense of dread within us, to create what is, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the best Horror film I've ever seen.

The world of Alien is a frighteningly cold and isolated one, consisting solely of the ship Nostromo, the planet LV-246, and the seven people and various incarnations of the Xenomorph that inhabit both. Earth, and other forms of civilization, are briefly mentioned, but for all the relevance they have to the plot, the Alien & the crew of the Nostromo may as well be the last living things in existence. This is essential to the film's sense of isolation, but its feeling of living in a hostile universe comes from the general production design, which is really the 8th star of the movie.

Even on the Nostromo, a ship supposedly designed for human beings, the environments feel very claustrophobic and er, "alien", with monitors, lights, and doors that turn on by themselves, cavernous industrial rooms with metal chains ominously dripping and hanging by overhead, and computer mainframes where the constant "whoosh" of the air-cooling fans make it sound like the room itself is breathing on you.

Then you have the derelict alien craft and its unsettlingly gooey, asymmetrical, "bio-mechanical" corridors and openings, as well as the various creatures contained within: the Space Jockey, the Facehugger, and of course, the Alien itself, with frighteningly malevolent undertones in their designs, courtesy of an Oscar-winning H.R. Giger. This, combined with the horrors of a crewmate bleeding and spewing out white "blood" as he tries to suffocate you, or an infant extraterrestrial bursting out of your chest, result in a universe where you can't trust other people, or even your very own body.

But of course, all of these elements would be for naught without Ridley Scott's methodically cunning, atmospheric direction taking full advantage of them; because of him, this is a highly reassured, confident film, never rushing its storytelling nor delaying it unnecessarily, over-indulging in needless gore, or bringing in unnecessary story entanglements to give off an illusion of being "busy" (although Dan O'Bannon's screenplay must also be given credit for that). Instead, he recognizes the film's various strengths and focuses on them, keeping things slow so we can soak in Alien's highly pure, one-of-a-kind atmosphere and terror, resulting in a cinematic universe where truly, honestly, no one can hear you scream.

Final Score: 10

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