Alien: Romulus teaser sends the series back to space and to familiar iconography

Cailee Spaeny
Cailee Spaeny
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Though we’ve had plenty of Alien sequels, prequels, and spin-offs in the last two decades, the series hasn’t spent much time on a spaceship since 1997’s Alien: Resurrection. Alien: Romulus plans to change that.

Directed by Fede Álvarez, Alien: Romulus resulted from numerous attempts at restarting the Alien franchise. So it should come as no surprise that it has the faint whiff of legacyquel. Álvarez is clearly working from a “please make this a straight-forward Alien movie instead of whatever Ridley Scott was doing for the last decade” directive. Gone are the pasty giants, Michael Fassbender, and Lawrence Of Arabia clips. What’s back? The corridors, the rattling ghostly soundtrack, and a low-angle shot of a mulleted woman holding a pulse rifle.

The irony of Álvarez as a director is that he loves working with constraints but punctuates his restraints with unbridled exploitation and bombast; the turkey baster scene from the climax of his “silent” horror thriller Don’t Breathe comes to mind. Here, he leans into an idea long theorized by Alien fans: What if there were a lot of Facehuggers? So, while the teaser is loaded with quiet shots of a ghostly spaceship, those spindly little guys explode out of nowhere, leaving only a split-second shot of the two-mouthed Xenomorph to cap the trailer.

Here’s the synopsis, which makes it sound like a group of college-age zoomers went on a road trip gone wrong:

“In this ninth entry in the immensely popular and enduring film series, a group of young people on a distant world find themselves in a confrontation with the most terrifying life form in the universe.”

Alien: Romulus is one of two projects to escape development hell, where the series has been imprisoned since the middling response to Scott’s Alien: Covenant, a good movie. After Disney bought 20th Century Fox, the Mouse House ditched the idea that we’d continue plunging deeper into the Prometheus mythos, killed whatever lingering interest there was in a Neill Blomkamp Alien movie, and launched Romulus and a TV series created by Noah Hawley, simply called Alien.

As for the Romulus part? Well, we’re just going to assume that’s the ship’s name. We’re also comfortable predicting David Jonsson’s standing man character is the android.

Alien: Romulus hits theaters on April 16, 2024.