Alien: Romulus Director Recalls The Big Question He Asked Himself When Approaching The Movie

 Cailee Spaeny looks terrified while holding a pulse rifle in an empty hallway in Alien: Romulus.
Credit: 20th Century Fox

It's a horror movie debate that never gets old: Alien or Aliens? Do you prefer the claustrophobic terror of a haunted-house in space or the adrenaline-fueled chaos of a sci-fi warzone? Ridley Scott's lean, dread-filled original and James Cameron's action-packed sequel each hold their own as towering achievements in the sci-fi genre. Both have compelling arguments for being the pinnacle of the Alien series (which is streamable). Faced with this legacy while crafting the upcoming installment, Romulus, director Fede Álvarez found himself pondering a big question related to both of the beloved flicks.

The recently released trailer for Alien: Romulus offers a tantalizing glimpse into how Fede Álvarez has merged these iconic elements from one of the best horror movie franchises. It begins with a slow, tension-filled buildup, before ramping up the action. Álvarez, the renowned filmmaker behind Evil Dead (2013) and Don't Breathe, recently shared insights with Empire Magazine about the pivotal question regarding the series' first two installments, which guided his vision for the film. And it makes a lot of sense:

To ask an Alien fan to choose between them is a perverse question. So I thought, ‘How do I do both?’

The Girl in the Spider’s Web filmmaker’s challenge was not just to create a film that stands on its own but to honor the legacy of its predecessors. The original ‘79 flick introduced audiences to the terrifying Xenomorph and the claustrophobic dread of space. Whereas the sequel expanded this universe, giving us our first variations of the Xenomorph while blending horror with high-octane action and deeper character development. Ultimately, he director's goal was to meld these elements, creating a narrative that pays homage to both styles while bringing something new to the table.

Prepare yourself for a movie that blends the creeping horror of the OG movie with the relentless onslaught of James Cameron’s sequel. The visual design follows suit, with the galactic Renaissance Station divided into two distinct areas: the eerie, Alien-inspired Remus and the advanced, Aliens-like Romulus. Fede Álvarez illustrated his point with a specific example from the upcoming horror movie:

There’s a moment where the characters are walking around areas familiar from the Nostromo. Then they cross through that building and on the other side: boom! You’re in a hallway that looks like Hadley’s Hope [from Aliens].

The Alien movies timeline can be a bit confusing, but Romulus is set to fit seamlessly into the franchise. Reflecting the director’s hybrid approach, the story will take place between the events of the first and second films, bridging the gap and adding new layers to the saga.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) producer’s vision for the next installment is ambitious, aiming to bridge the gap between the contrasting styles of its predecessors. This balancing act is no small feat, but Fede Álvarez’s passion for the project definitely shines through. His previous works have demonstrated his ability to handle intense, character-driven narratives within the horror genre, so, I think that the forthcoming sequel/prequel is in more than capable hands.

Alien: Romulus opens in theaters as part of the 2024 movie schedule on August 16. While you wait, perhaps you can catch up with the two films that have the most influence on the forthcoming entry. Witness the creeping dread of Alien, streaming with a Hulu subscription, whereas you can check out the action of Aliens with a Max subscription.