Tuesday, 15 October 2013

30 Days of Horror | Day 15

A Painfully Suspenseful Movie

I only watched Alien for the first time yesterday, and it is probably because it is so fresh in my mind that it seemed the perfect choice for today's post.

What Ridley Scott has done so well in Alien is craft an extremely claustrophobic atmosphere throughout the entire film, something that I was not at all expecting. Despite being set on a huge ship in the vastness of Space, the long corridors of the Nostromo become unnervingly enclosed once the titular space-beast gets loose and stalks the crew one by one. Even when the action takes place in larger areas, both inside and outside of the Nostromo, the darkness that dominates much of the film often tightly constrains the characters within a single part of the frame. I was anticipating grand, detailed sets and intricately crafted make up effects, and while those elements are certainly present, I was pleasantly surprised that they are often shrouded in darkness. This intensified the long sequences in which the crew try to locate the Alien, with the minimalist score also helping to create an unnerving atmosphere that builds up to nerve shattering scares almost every time.

Though I had never seen the film, I had a basic grasp of some of the major plot points and set-pieces and this proved to heighten the suspense even more as I endured the long build-ups with a fair idea of what was to come but no way of knowing just when it would occur. In a standard horror film the protagonist can run as far from the villain as possible but here there really isn't anywhere to run. The ship becomes a labyrinthine series of badly lit corridors that provide ample hiding places for the oversized monster, and watching these characters try and get away from an extra-terrestrial hide and seek champion is an incredibly suspenseful experience.

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