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Film / Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts

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For the 40th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s film Alien, six filmmakers were selected to produce Short Films set in the Alien universe.

  • Containment — Four survivors find themselves stranded aboard a small escape pod in deep space. Trying to piece together the details around the outbreak that led to their ship’s destruction, they find themselves unsure to trust whether or not one of them might be infected.

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  • Alone — Hope, an abandoned crew member aboard the derelict chemical hauler Otranto, has spent a year trying to keep her ship and herself alive as both slowly fall apart. After discovering hidden cargo, she risks it all to power up the broken ship in search of human life.

  • Harvest — The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester have minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along.

  • Night Shift — When a missing space trucker is discovered hungover and disoriented, his co-worker suggests a nightcap as a remedy. Near closing time, they are reluctantly allowed inside the colony supply depot where the trucker’s condition worsens, leaving a young supply worker alone to take matters into her own hands.

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  • Ore — As a hard-working miner of a planet mining colony, Lorraine longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a fellow miner under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or defying management orders and facing her fears to fight for the safety of her family.

  • Specimen — It’s the night shift in a colony greenhouse, and Julie, a botanist, does her best to contain suspicious soil samples that have triggered her sensitive lab dog. Despite her best efforts the lab unexpectedly goes into full shutdown and she is trapped inside. Little does she know an alien specimen has escaped the mysterious cargo, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the creature searches for a host.

Unmarked spoilers abound.


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     Containment  

     Alone  

  • Admiring the Abomination: Hope looks at the adult Xenomorph in awe.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Hope lures in a salvager just to let her "companion" facehug him.
  • Building Is Welding: Or repairing, in this case.
  • Call-Back:
    • The chemical hauler Otranto is similar to the Nostromo in that it's a massive commercial hauler controlled by Mother. We have the long panning shots through empty rooms and the drinking birds in the gallery as in the opening of Alien. Macwhirr is wearing a Nostromo-era spacesuit and arrives in the same type of shuttle as the Narcissus. Hope does a Ripley-style last entry of her Captain's Log.
    • Hope shows the same skill with sketching that David did in Alien: Covenant. Like David she also becomes fascinated by the alien enough to see it continues its life cycle at the expense of the humans she ostensibly serves. She also does the same funny little "jog in place" bit that Ash did in Alien.
  • Captain's Log
    Hope: Post-evacuation report of the commercial frigate Otranto. Day 458. I've been counting the rivets in the B Deck corridor. There are 28,582 rivets. That's two more than in the technical specs. I will have to tell someone when I get home.
  • Casting Gag: Macwhirr is played by James Paxton, son of Bill Paxton who played Hudson in Aliens.
  • Chest Burster: Happens out of sight when Macwhirr is locked in a room after being infected with a facehugger.
  • Companion Cube: With no other living thing on board the Otranto, Hope starts to emphasize with the Facehugger, even referring to "her" instead of "it." When she realises they are both dying, she goes to great lengths to ensure it will complete its sole purpose in life. The Facehugger too is drawn to Hope because there is no-one else on the ship, so it seeks out anything that approximates a lifeform.
  • Cut the Juice: Hope accidentally shorts out Mother when she uses a fire extinguisher on an electrical fire. However this gives her access to the Science Lab that that Mother has refused to let her enter.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Averted, though it kills someone else down the track. Hope wants to know what's behind the locked door that Mother won't give her access to. A power failure gives her a chance to find out — a living Facehugger held in stasis. It looks like she will become the next victim when she revives the creature, but it turns out Hope is a synthetic and is therefore not a viable host for impregnation.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Hope's calm response when the facehugger leaps at her.
  • Dying Alone:
    Hope: Neither of us deserve to die out here like this. So we are going to take our fate into our own hands.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Mother when it short-circuits from the fire. Hope as her body starts to break down.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Hope tells Macwhirr to accept his fate like she has. Of course there's nothing dignified about his demise.
  • Face Hugger: As the Facehugger is dying, Hope has to hold it down over Macwhirr's face to ensure he'll get a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Hope has the fragile beauty, child-like innocence, and Meaningful Name of an ingenue. She ends up holding a man down and shoving a facehugger over his mouth, then locking him in a room until his chest bursts open.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Our first sight of Hope is her trainers walking down a corridor as she counts the rivets.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: As the title suggests, Hope is trapped alone aboard her ship for quite some time. Between her failing hardware and fascination with the Facehugger, bad things happen.
  • The Great Repair: The Otranto (and Hope) is slowly deteriorating, but the impending demise of the Facehugger spurs Hope to fix the engines to get it close to an inhabited region of space.
  • Hard-Work Montage: A quick one to show Hope scavenging the ship to get the engines working.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Hope is the last surviving crewmember aboard her ship, which is falling apart beyond the frontier of humanity.
  • Not Me This Time: Unlike the prior shorts, there is no indication that Weyland Yutani is involved with this Xenomorph outbreak. The Facehugger was being studied on board the Otranto however, so it's possible that a similar course of events occurred as per the first film.
  • Robotic Reveal: When the facehugger leaps at Hope, it grips her arm with its tail tightly enough to wound her. However the blood is white and the facehugger then flees. We then cut to Hope repairing her arm and surmising that the facehugger could not infect her as she was not a viable host. Though the actress does such a good job portraying Hope's synthetic "otherness," and the clues are so front-loaded, that the reveal is almost a formality.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: Hope is just going through the motions, maintaining the Otranto while waiting for a rescue that will never come. Hope doesn't start to resent this until the Facehugger's deterioration starts to match her own. Eventually she attacks a human and later refuses his order to let him out of the room she's confined him in.
  • Single Tear: Hope weeps a single milky-white tear when her hand twitches cause her to deface a self portrait.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: A rather dark take on this, but valid given the Rule of Symbolism of the Xenomorph life cycle.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": Before she discovers the Facehugger, Hope has resorted to counting the rivets on the spaceship just to keep herself occupied.
  • Super Strength: Hope is able to hold down a much larger man who is struggling for his life. Combined with Super Reflexes when she holds a facehugger at bay effortlessly, only receiving minor damage to her forearm from the crushing strength of its tail.
  • The Un-Reveal: The short ends with the fully-grown Xenomorph looming over Hope. Whether the inately hostile adult form kills her on the spot or leaves her alone is not revealed, though given that adult Xenomorphs similarly do not attack synthetics unless they have to, it is likely the adult Xenomorph left her alone.
  • Villain Protagonist: Hope initially appears to be the classic Final Girl, but she eventually allows her "companion" to complete its life cycle.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Although the captain of the Otranto told Hope that someone would come back to rescue her, it's obvious that no-one will. Even if she is rescued, the Company doesn't manufacture spare parts for her model any more.

     Harvest  

  • Alien Blood: Alec's face is badly burned by the Xenomorph's acidic blood.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When the Xenomorph tries to drag off her husband, Hannah hacks at its arm with the fire axe. This gets acid blood on her husband and the blow fails to severe the limb, but the injury does make the Xenomorph let him go.
  • An Axe to Grind: The survivors have an ax that they use against the Xenomorph, until the acidic blood of the creature wrecks it.
  • Asteroid Miners: The November harvests plasma from the tail of a comet. Unfortunately with most of the crew dead the out-of-control vessel is about to collide with the comet it's trailing, so everyone has to Abandon Ship even without a generally unpleasant Xenomorph on the hunt.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Company finally gets their hands on some alien specimens.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Mari appears to be the requisite Alien heroine, but is actually a Robotic Psychopath ensuring the Company gets two viable alien specimens.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Xenomorph, obviously, but also Mari, secretly a synthetic who's only helping two survivors escape because the escape pod is already stocked with Alien eggs, just waiting for hapless, helpless hosts.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The synthetic appears to be wanting to help the survivors only to lure them into a Facehugger trap.
  • Blood from the Mouth: As is the case whenever the Xenomorph impales someone through the back, in this case, revealing Mari is an android.
  • Call-Back:
    • The synthetic is impaled through the back at the end of the short, just like Bishop.
    • Also "You're not reading it right!" re the motion detector, also from Aliens.
  • Chest Burster: The husband and wife are impregnated by Facehuggers at the end of the short, guaranteeing their death, and the adult Xenomorph indicates this happened to someone else.
  • Distress Call: The short opens with a distress call from the November.
  • Downer Ending: This is the only short where everyone is guaranteed dead, as two survivors are killed by the Xenomorph, while the other two are impregnated. Meanwhile the emergency shuttle is on a rendezvous with a Company probe.
  • Dwindling Party: In this case, right down to zero.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: This particular Xenomorph seems to like approaching the humans stealthily from behind, doing it three times during the short.
  • Escape Pod: Emergency Shuttle B
  • Foreshadowing: Mari assures Hannah that the Company has probes far enough out in deep space to rescue them. It's only at the end we discover why. She also displays several acts of effortless physicality that hint to her being an android.
  • Going in Circles: Alec points out they've ended up where Sturgis was ambushed, right before the Xenomorph grabs him for its next victim.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We don't see the final Facehugger leap at Hannah, but the screaming stops right when it is about to leap.
  • Hope Spot: Initially it appears as though the survivors have escaped, only for Alec to be snared by a Facehugger, and Hannah to realise there are two alien eggs in the Escape Pod with them.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Mari is impaled through the back by the Xenomorph.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Hannah
  • Improvised Weapon: The survivors have only a fire axe to protect them.
  • Irony: Xenomorphs usually leave synthetics alone, so by attacking the Xenomorph to ensure another host was present, the synthetic gave the Xenomorph a reason to impale it.
  • It Can Think: This is the only short that draws attention to the Xenomorph's intelligence. It tricks the motion tracker by traveling under the deck, enabling it to get around Sturgis and move in for the kill. It manages to grab Alec and tries to drag him off, but that gets thwarted by Hannah. Later, the Xenomorph takes advantage of Mari's Evil Gloating to impale and kill her.
  • It's the Only Way: Right after Sturgis is killed, Hannah rushes out to grab the axe and sensor he dropped because they're going to need them.
  • Kill 'Em All: All of the survivors are dead or guaranteed to be dead at the end of the short.
  • Made of Iron: The Xenomorph's arm must be incredibly durable given that it survived three chops from an axe without it being taken off.
  • Nested Mouths: Sturgis is killed by the Xenomorph's inner jaw.
  • Never Split The Party: Sturgis wrests the motion detector off Mari, accusing her of not using it properly, and rushes off ahead. He walks right into an ambush by the Xenomorph.
  • No Seatbelts: Averted; Hannah and Alec are strapped into the escape shuttle, but that only makes them vulnerable to the facehuggers.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: As well as the usual packing crates with floodlights shining through them, one part of the corridor is lined with bottle ends.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Why Mari saves Alec from the Xenomorph, to ensure there is another host for the Facehuggers.
  • Robotic Psychopath: While some synthetics clearly don't think much of humanity, Mari is the first synthetic we've seen who displays malevolent glee over her amoral acts.
  • Robotic Reveal: Mari spurts white Blood from the Mouth when the Xenomorph impales her.
  • Sensor Suspense: The motion detector version. Thanks to Zeerust Canon, it still can't give a good signal and the Xenomorph is able to fool it by approaching from under the deck plating.
  • Super Strength: While Xenomorphs have been shown before in the franchise to be far stronger than the average human, this short shows the Xenomorph still being able to manage to pull a human into the darkness despite both the grabbed human, and two other females, trying to stop it.
  • Slasher Smile: Mari does this when Hannah realizes she is about to be impregnated, only to be killed seconds later by the Xenomorph sneaking up behind her.
  • Someone Has to Die: Subverted; a seriously wounded Alec is dragged to the emergency shuttle, but as it will only accept two people he urges his wife to leave him behind and save their child. Mari then manually overrides the Lock Down, but only so the shuttle will accept the alien eggs/facehuggers she has already planted on board.
  • Tank-Top Tomboy: Mari provides the requisite sweaty tanktop fanservice.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The fact that Hannah is pregnant doesn't stop Mari from serving her up to a facehugger.

     Night Shift 

    Ore 

  • Affectionate Nickname: Lorraine exchanges these with her daughter (also a miner) as she goes off shift.
  • Alien Blood: Winni is presumably killed by the Xenomorph's acidic blood, given that her death is not seen, but it immediately cuts to a burned mining tool.
  • Asteroid Miners: Albeit on an exoplanet rather than an asteroid.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Hanks ostensibly reasonable actions are to preserve the life of the Xenomorph, not the miners.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: All of the miners stand ready to face the Xenomorph, and the film ends, right when the creature charges them.
  • Braids of Action: Several of the female miners including Lorraine have their hair in braids.
  • Call-Back:
    • Clark gets drooled on, then gets impaled and dragged into the darkness, much like Bishop in Aliens and Axel in Alien: Isolation.
    • The order that Hanks gets regarding the 'organism' is identical to the Mother scene in Alien.
  • Chest Burster: Also happened off screen, and it evidently happened a while ago, as the alien has had time to grow to full size.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The Xenomorph attacks when the tunnels are lit by the helmets lights and the flashing emergency lights. Then Hanks switches off the tunnel lights as well.
  • Darkness = Death: Hanks turns off the lights, which allows the Xenomorph to massacre one of the miners.
  • *Drool* Hello + Death by Looking Up: Drool falls onto Clark's helmet, and he dies on looking up to see the cause.
  • Dug Too Deep: The miners are worried the Company will abandon the colony because they haven't been making any new strikes of platinum. Hanks reassures them they just have to keep digging. Turns out they've already hit paydirt — too bad it's more valuable to the Company than their lives.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Averted; Lorraine comments that if they make a good strike and get "that bonus," she'll take her family somewhere better. Near the end, Hanks guarantees a bonus for the miners. . . if they let the Alien live. Lorraine responds "Fuck you, Hanks."
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Dan the Dog starts barking at the monitor screen when the Xenomorph makes an appearance.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Occurred to Al off-screen.
  • Facial Dialogue:
  • Gory Discretion Shot: None of the kills the Xenomorph makes are shown directly.
  • Hostile Weather: Bowen's Landing is on an ice-bound planet that's cold enough to freeze your balls off, or so one miner claims.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The first miner dies this way when he looks up.
  • Improvised Weapon: Which appear to be pickaxes and large drills. Were it not for the Xenomorph's acidic blood, they'd probably be quite effective.
  • In-Universe Camera: When a miner turns up babbling about an emergency, Lorraine grabs a camera she hangs on her chest so Hanks can see what's going on.
  • Just Following Orders: Hanks appears to have more empathy than some other synthetics we've seen, but that doesn't stop her from being willing to sacrifice the miner's lives and endanger the colony just to obey the Company's order to protect the organism at all costs.
  • Mama Bear: Realising the Xenomorph will only follow them up the lift shaft and attack the colony where her daughter and grandchildren live, Lorraine stops the lift and goes to fight the alien.
  • Mythology Gag: The miners have that talk about the bonus situation that Parker wanted to have in Alien.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Because the miners are hungry for bonuses, they keep pushing themselves to take double or even triple shifts.
    • It's implied that the Company knows about the Xenomorph (note that Hanks instantly diagnoses the chestburster injury) but no general warning about the dangers of alien eggs has been issued.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: As in the original Alien, the Xenomorph is never seen directly or very clearly until the end of the film.
  • Population: X, and Counting: As the new shift arrives they file past a sign saying that Bowen's Landing has a population of 288, which has then been crossed out for 312. One suspects that number is about to be reduced drastically.
  • Properly Paranoid: Lorraine's first reaction upon seeing the Alien eggs is to try to shoot them on the belief they are dangerous. She quickly gets proven right, but they weren't expecting an adult Xenomorph warrior to show up.
  • Practical Effects: The Xenomorph would have had been done as someone in a suit, but the need for it to do a quick leap on the wall meant it had to be done in CGI.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Averted; on realising what they're dealing with, Hanks shuts down the mine and orders everyone out. Justified as getting the humans as far away from the Xenomorph as possible is the best way to protect both. It's Lorraine who insists that everyone has to stay to prevent the Xenomorph escaping.
  • Reveal Shot: The lights go out as Winni tries to kill the Xenomorph with an axe. We then see Hanks with her finger on the switch for the mine lights.
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: The human worker in the monitoring room is actually asleep while the synthetic is doing all the work. When he leaves the room, Hanks simply locks the door to prevent him interfering.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Lorraine has pictures of cats and her daughter's baby on her locker door.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Clark says he should have left the colony. He's right, as he's the first to die onscreen.
    • Winni exults, "I got it!" as she lands a blow on the Xenomorph in the dark. We then hear her scream and an acid-scorched pickaxe falls to the ground.
  • Wall Crawl: The Xenomorph leaps up the side of a mining tunnel to avoid a swing from an axe.
  • Working-Class Hero: You can't get more blue collar than starting a shift complaining about your balls.
  • You Are Not Alone: Lorraine goes out alone to fight the Xenomorph. However as the alien monster advances out of the dark towards her, the other miners suddenly appear alongside her.

    Specimen 

  • Angry Guard Dog: Fortunately, Maggie, the dog used to detect contaminated soil samples, is a synthetic Doberman Pinscher.
  • Apathy Killed the Cat (or in this case, The Dog): When Maggie warns the humans about the contaminated container, Dev says they have to wait till morning to get something done about it because the people responsible for decontamination aren't going to sort it out in the middle of the night.
  • Coup de Grâce: After Maggie's head and neck are badly damaged by the Facehugger's acidic blood, Julie puts the cybernetic canine out of her misery with a blow from her shovel.
  • Darkness = Death: After the botanical lab goes into Lock Down with Julie trapped inside, Dev reboots the system to unlock it, turning off all the lights.
  • Death by Looking Up: Averted; see below.
  • *Drool* Hello: Acid drips down from the pipes above. Julie aims her torch upwards and the Face Hugger leaps down at her—fortunately she's able to knock it aside in mid-leap with her shovel.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Justified; Maggie is specifically trained — or programmed — to detect contaminated soil samples. Unfortunately this time it's not just some alien virus.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Alone in the lab during a long night shift, Julie listens to music on her headphones. Unfortunately this means she doesn't hear the Red Alert and gets locked in the lab.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Maggie dies fighting the facehugger, getting her head and neck eaten away by acid after biting it. But this means the facehugger becomes easy meat for Julie, who then finishes Maggie off after telling her she did a good job.
  • Man's Best Friend: Even when they're synthetic.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The reason why a Red Alert is supposed to include a flashing red light is for situations where people can't hear a siren.
  • Robotic Reveal: Maggie is revealed to be a dog-shaped synthetic — complete with milky-white "blood" — after she mauls the facehugger and has her head and neck melted away to the bone, still-twitching and attempting to bark.
  • Scare the Dog: Played with; Julie hears a couple of terrified whimpers as Maggie battles the facehugger in the darkness, but Maggie doesn't give up.
  • Trapped with Monster Plot: The Lock Down version.
  • The Voice: Dev is just a voice on the intercom for most of the movie, only turning up in person after it's all over.
  • Shovel Strike: Julie arms herself with a trowel, and then a shovel when she realizes she needs something bigger.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dev tells Julie she shouldn't have named the dog. Turns out it's a synthetic animal.
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