Are you all tired of these “We Saw Footage From [Insert Popular Upcoming Horror Film] !” posts? Trust me, I understand. I would love nothing more than to show you the teaser trailer for It, or the two incredibly suspenseful scenes from Annabelle 2 that were shown to attendees of the SXSW Conference and Festivals last weekend. Unfortunately, the studios just aren’t ready for that yet, so we are relegated to simply describing the footage for you. For that I apologize, but what I can offer you is my opinion on the exclusive footage that was shown to attendees of the festival.*
*Apologies for the delay on this. This footage was screened on Friday March 10th but I just haven’t had a chance to write about it yet.
It was an unusual move for festival programmers to have their one of their opening night films be Ridley Scott’s Alien, which was shown at one of the festival’s biggest venues: The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue. Not that the festival hasn’t shown older films in the past, but with Covenant just two months away from release, I was 99% sure that it was going to be a surprise screening of Scott’s new film. Sure, the publicists told us that it was just going to be footage from Covenant followed by a screening of Alien, but it wouldn’t be the first time a surprise twist happened at a film festival. Plus, Scott, Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender and Danny McBride were all there to introduce the footage. Surely they were going to show Covenant, right? Wrong. It really was just three scenes, but I did get to see Alien on the big screen afterwards, which was pretty great.
One of the scenes that Scott showed us, which shows that the android David (Michael Fassbender) seemingly created the xenomorphs, was already covered by our very own John Squires. That was actually the third and final scene that was screened for the audience. The first scene showed the crew of the Covenant landing on the new planet. There’s not a lot to mention about this scene, but it does give you an idea of the chemistry that the characters have and they all seem to play off of each other very well.
The second scene that was shown, however, was a doozy. We were able to witness not one, but two neomorph births. We told you everything you need to know about the neomorphs back in December, but finally seeing them in action was truly something special (if a little CGI-heavy, but more on that in a bit). In case you’ve missed some of the news: neomorphs are the result of the local ecosystem being mutated by the accelerant/black goo. Over time, pods started to grow on the trees and the ground, and release a spore when disturbed. These spores infect several members of the Covenant crew by entering the body through the ear and nostrils. The spores cause the growth of the Neomorphs inside the infected hosts.
The clip shown at the SXSW Conference and Festivals featured footage that is shown in the trailer, but this gave us an extremely close look at the neomorph and it’s attack habits. If you were afraid that the film wouldn’t be scary, let me put those fears to rest. This was a truly frightening scene.
The clip opens with part of the crew running back to a ship after already making contact with the spores. Carmen Ejogo’s character is with an injured crewmate who is coughing up blood all over her. Faris (Amy Seimetz), who is the wife of Tennessee (Danny McBride), lets them on to the ship and brings them both to the exam room. Faris is clearly unsettled by the man’s condition, but Ejogo tells her to help them. The man starts convulsing and Faris runs out of the room to radio the rest of the team who is still outside. She locks the door on her way out, trapping Ejogo and the man in the exam room. After her radio conversation, Faris runs back to the locked exam room and looks inside. Ejogo is hugging the man and his back starts splitting. Ejogo runs to the door and demands that Faris let her out. Faris denies her request. The man’s back completely rips open, and a small, white alien fetus falls on the ground (*splat*). The man’s corpse hangs over the side of the exam table.
The baby neomorph jumps up and begins to crawl around the room. Ejogo grabs a small knife and readies it for an attack. The neomorph jumps at her and begins scratching at her and stabbing her with its tail. After putting up a brief fight, Ejogo succumbs to her wounds and Faris opens the door to help her. She runs inside slips on the man’s blood, which garners the attention of the neomorph. It runs at her and she hurriedly crawls out of the room and shuts the door….on her foot. She manages to pull it out of the doorway and as it shuts the neomorph begins headbutting the door. Faris runs down the hall and the neomorph breaks the glass window of the exam foom, escaping into the corridor and chasing Faris. She makes it into the cargo hold and begins shooting at the neomorph. After missing several times, she shoots a canister that triggers an explosion. The ship goes up in flames.
The rest of the crew is approaching the ship as it explodes. There is no sign of the neomorph but Faris walks outside, covered in flames, and collapses. She is dead. It is at this moment that another crew member begins convulsing and eventually collapses. As the rest of the crew tries to help him, he begins vomiting blood and another baby neomorph squirms its way out of his mouth. Blood and goo are everywhere. The creature scampers off into the distance as the crew is left in shock and without a ship.
Many of you have vocalized your concerns about the use of CGI in the film, and I wish I had something positive to report on that front. Unfortunately the neomorph is a CGI creation, and it’s…not the best. It is possible that they’re still tinkering with the effects in the film so this could very well change by the time the film is released, but who knows? It was a little surprising that it looked as screensaver-y as it did, because the CGI xenomorph shown in the latest trailer actually looks pretty good. Spotty CGI aside, this was an incredibly tense and gory scene that elicited some great reactions from the audience. If the film can keep this type of intensity up for the duration of its runtime then I think we really could be in for something special.