Sometimes, less is more.
That could be the motto for the Alien franchise in general—especially in movies that are aiming to have some semblance of a horror vibe to them.
By obscuring the titular alien for the majority of the first film, Ridley Scott managed to create one of the most original and fresh horror movies of the nineties with Alien. If you watch any of the cut footage, from this movie, it’s pretty apparent that that rubber Xenomorph costume looks ridiculous if it’s actually viewed up close.
It’s only through subsequent films, comics, and video games showing Xenomorphs in better lit, more explicit scenarios that these creatures have gone from being vague and terrifying to over-exposed and ridiculous (see Colonial Marines for all the proof you’ll ever need of this point).
Yes, less is definitely more when it comes to creating a truly terrifying villain.
The same logic can probably be applied to the lore of the franchise.
Just as midichlorians took all of the wonder and joy out of Star Wars, Prometheus fell flat largely because it focused more on world building than on horror.
Both of these examples also didn’t work because the lore in question is stupid.
Case in point: the Space Jockey.
Appearing in the original Alien, space jockeys are presented as a strange, mysterious race whose actions prior to the Nostromo’s arrival are vague at best. Fans speculated endlessly about what these creatures were up to, and how they ended up getting intimate with facehuggers.
Then, in the spirit of prequels that take hot steaming dumps on their source material, Prometheus revealed that Space Jockey aren’t weird elephantine aliens after all—they’re monochrome underwear models in space suits.
That is so much less interesting.
But Ridley Scott isn’t done explaining his Alien universe yet—and, as everyone knows, exposition is always the best bit of every horror movie.
Twentieth Century Fox has tweeted out a picture of the director standing in a set that features a space jockey which looks tantalizingly similar to the one which draws in the Nostromo in the original Alien.
Fans have jumped with excitement – after the bait-and-switch tease of Prometheus, are we finally going to get a genuine explanation as to what happened to set up the events of Alien?
Well, perhaps we shouldn’t get our hopes up just yet.
There’s every chance that Scott might pull the rug out from under us again, as he did when Prometheus mysteriously morphed from a direct prequel into a more tangential tale of the origin of Xenomorphs.
On the other hand, even if Alien: Covenant turns out to lead directly into Alien, we might not necessarily be happy with what we get.
Because if magic underwear models are the best Scott could come up with last time, he must really be running low on good ideas by this point.
It might be that once we’ve learned more about the Alien universe, we’ll wish we could forget it all again.