An official short film set in the Alien universe has been released online. Its events follow on from the successful but divisive Prometheus and the better received but not as profitable Alien: Covenant, adding a brief but key chapter in the ever-developing franchise.
Centered on invariably fatal encounters between humans and an alien race of remorseless killing machines seeming built for nothing but destruction, the Alien franchise has become one of the most iconic sci-fi sagas in film history. Its mythology has been regularly revised and expanded upon since its inception in 1979, with multiple sequels, prequels, shorts, novels, comics, video games, board games and RPG campaigns; each adding something new to the dark and unforgiving Alien universe.
The short film, titled Last Signs of Life, was posted to the franchise’s YouTube channel Alien Anthology, in celebration of the second anniversary of Alien: Covenant’s home release. It shows a scientist from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation investigating David’s abandoned lab on the former Engineer planet unofficially dubbed Paradise, cataloging the rogue android’s myriad notes, sketches and biological samples that chart his experimentation in his creation of the “perfect organism.” It attempts to recapture the sense of unease and encroaching dread that typified the original film, with the found footage-style camerawork scanning uncomprehendingly over several hideous chimera lying cold and dissected on the dusty tables. The gloom of the cavernous room is maintained by low light levels that create an atmosphere of isolation and confinement, while the tension is amplified by the background music becoming louder and increasingly discordant as the primal predator with which we are all too familiar finally appears.
Once the scientist encounters a facehugger egg you can be pretty sure where the brief story is going to go, but the methods it takes to get there still make it well worth watching. His equipment allows, for the first time, shots from within the egg, showing the facehugger awakening from its dormant slumber with the appearance of a warm body beside it. Sliding through the eldritch slime in extreme close ups that would be difficult to make out if you didn’t already know what it was, the facehugger plays into the nightmarish sense of the unknown that creatures evoke in the Alien franchise.
Since the events of Prometheus are chronologically the earliest of the Alien movies (unless you count the Alien vs Predator movies, and it’s debatable whether or not you should), Last Signs of Life actually marks a significant turning point in the saga of Alien. Although it’s not made clear why Weyland-Yutani thought to investigate the planet, it suggests that this was the unfeeling corporation’s initial encounter with the xenomorphs. In recognizing the weaponized potential of the creatures, it subsequently spent the next 75 years, along with dozens of human lives and presumably billions of dollars, developing complex schemes to smuggle one of them back to Earth. The timeline has a blank spot of about 15 years between this point and the departure of the Nostromo prior to the events of the initial film, so whatever Weyland-Yutani attempts to do with this newfound discovery, it will be unfamiliar ground for everyone involved.
Source: Alien Anthology