It all starts with a commercial spacecraft called the Nostromo, and its seven passengers. Mother awakens the crew when it receives a distress signal from an unknown planet. But, what they don’t know, is that the distress signal is nothing more than a call for a new danger; something really unexpected. The main protagonist, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), along with the other members, have to face something unwilling to reason. Alien starts as a science fiction movie. However, you’ll notice that after a part of the movie, it suddenly starts to change to horror. Though it never loses its sci-fi elements.
At first, you can see a relaxed atmosphere within the movie. Nothing is suspected, so the audience can actually feel what they do. A friendly talk with co-workers as if it was another normal day for anyone. The ambience in space is really well done. However, at this time you may notice is obviously part of the special effects instead of really feeling like you’re traveling out of the planet. The call they receive by Mother really starts changing the mood. What’s happening in that planet? Is it just a need for an evacuation? And, if it is the reason, what are they evacuating for?
The planet effects are different. It is really dark, and you as a spectator can notice that something’s wrong in that place… something really happened, and long ago. And that’s where the mood changes completely. No more friendly talk, everyone is worried about the circumstances. At any moment everything is going to get bad.
The other half part of the movie focuses in the ship. Nothing’s out there anymore. The real danger is inside and there’s no way they can escape from it since the ship has a schedule and speed limit. And claustrophobia, along with the danger that’s watching from the darkest corners of the ship make you feel tension as the crew members do.
From a sci-fi movie, it is really hard to make it feel like a horror movie; from the beginning you’re not expecting something normal from the galaxy out there. However, Alien is an exception from its time. The creature is so mysterious, is silent, and you never expect his moves until is too late to run or scream for help.
In the other hand, you wonder why they’re lacking for defense equipment. Flamethrowers are not even good enough for long distance encounters. Being out of space, traveling into the unknown should have been a good excuse to give the crew members a better equipment for them to work in case of something, like that creature they found. Of course, this is digging too much into a fictional movie.
The changes of mood along the 117 minutes of the movie, make the environment very realistic within the genre, of course. The crew members are really human beings trapped. And you can see the fear, sweat, and tears flowing when they encounter that dangerous and mysterious being. A great combination of science fiction and horror was made into a movie with excellent direction by the hands of Ridley Scott.