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Horror Short: Alien : Containment (2019)


The first of the Alien 40th Anniversary shorts has dropped. It’s Alien in a lifeboat! It’s amazing what can be done with a $35,000 budget.

Written and Directed by Chris Reading

This is the 40th Anniversary of the release of the seminal sci-fi horror film Alien. As we noted in a previous post, Fox and Tongal celebrated the anniversary by creating a film competition for which they funded and helped produce six Alien horror shorts. This fusion of big studio support and independent filmmaker pluck and creativity is a match that we at TST support, and hope that it continues to blossom.

The short time allotment helps to stretch the miniscule budgets, and focus the stories, and now IGN has released the first of these short films for our viewing. If the rest of the shorts are as good as this, we are in for a delicious and bloody treat.

This film stars the surviving crew of the colony transfer ship Borrowdale, which self-destructed above a gas giant planet. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the survivors has a chest-burster inside! The trick with all of these Alien short films is to both use what we know about the franchise, and maintain that consistency, while still feeling fresh. It’s a tricky dilemma since the tropes are now so familiar.

Tongal and Fox were also quite clear in their desire for the directors to hew close to the franchise bone on these films, and Containment is very much in-line with what you would expect an Alien short film to be. Their desire was to have these films feel like a cut from the Alien extended universe, and they were right on target with this one.

In this brief thriller, director Chris Reading manages to provide just enough characters and just enough menace to have you guessing which one of these crew members is the incubator. I would love to know how much assistance Fox and Tongal provided for the visual effects, as they are STUNNING for a short film. And, it isn’t often that you get a short film with a post-credits scene, so don’t stop the video until you’ve seen the very end!

Nitpicking on a short film doesn’t seem fair, but there are a couple of Deus-Ex Machina moments present. I am going to give the writer the benefit of the doubt and surmise that the Borrowdale was part of a convoy, or that they are in a relatively heavily trafficked space lane, as it isn’t long before the lifeboat gets picked up. A little exposition from the recuse party would have close the logical loop here. (Compared to say, the Nostromo lifeboat which had Ripley and Jones floating for decades in hibernation.)

The film stars Gaia Weiss as Ward, Theo Barklam Biggs as Nass, Sharon Duncan Brewster as Albrecht, and Adam Loxley as Mills. You don’t get a whole lot of time with the cast, but in the time we get to know the crew, we understand just enough to get an appreciation for the story. The acting is quite solid and it would have been fun to see this crew in a full film. As more of the short films come out, we will post them for your viewing.

In space, nobody can tell how big a budget you had.

Review by Eric Li
Categories: ShortsTags: , , , , , , , , ,

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