It came as a surprise when it was announced that short films based on Alien were to be released in order to celebrate its 40th Anniversary. What was in store for fans of the franchise, given that the short films were actually commissioned, and not fan made ones uploaded to YouTube?
The first one released, and thus giving us an indicator of future installments, is Alien: Containment; and if the title sounds straightforward, then the plot is too:
A crew on-board a doomed ship manages to break free via an escape pod, but what they brought with them is much more terrifying.
The film plays like many others in the franchise. The crew become aware of something terrible, one happens to be infected and a baby Xenomorph pops out. One admires it while another is terrified and hates it. Textbook stuff if you’re familiar with any of the Alien films; and as a result, it sort of cheapens the whole short film. Instead of making it his own, writer/director, Chris Reading, tries to imitate the previous films. In some cases it works, like deciding not to show the Xeno, adding suspense because they’re so intimidating. In others, it doesn’t, and it results in one of the biggest “roll your eyes” moments you’ll see on screen, big or small, this year.
It’s all a bit too chaotic, and not because there is an alien bursting out of someone. It doesn’t quite click together, and when we get to the ending, which happens to be a really good one, we can’t help but still ask “what was the point?”
Alien: Containment feels like it has taken little bits from every aspect of the franchise, with desperate hopes of gluing them together so something might click.
** out of *****