SEATTLE - WARNING: article contains small spoiler
If you feel “very distressed” after watching Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott will feel like he’s done his job.
The legendary director still remembers audience reactions from 1979, following a preview of the original Alien.
"They got angry at the end of it. They could never get over the chestburster scene. It was an affront, they were offended. So I was like, 'I'm going to the bath. See you in the bar afterwards,’” he said, laughing.
His latest film employs small details, like the enhanced sound of water dripping and feet stepping, to create spooky moments. Music also builds suspense – including an unlikely instrument: the recorder, played by Michael Fassbender’s character.
"It's quite painful,” he said. “It was horrible when I was practicing and I wondered, ‘Can the neighbors hear me?’ And then I did hear the neighbor go, ‘I wish that guy would stop playing the f-ing flute!’”
Fassbender reprises his role from Prometheus as an android - but in Alien: Covenant, he plays two different synthetic models who interact. In one scene, they do so with affection.
"Is this the first time that you have ever kissed yourself on camera?” asked reporter Kim Holcomb.
“I'm glad you said 'on camera',” Fassbender deadpanned. “Um... yes, indeed.”
“How was it?” Holcomb asked.
“It was okay,” Fassbender laughed. “The (body double) was called Tom O'Sullivan - if you're listening, Tom, it was special. Thank you for not using your tongue."
That particular scene was shot in one take. In fact, Scott calls Fassbender a "one take Charlie." Many of the movie's sequences were achieved in two takes or less.
“You want to keep it moving. You know what I discovered way back when? In that first take, first two takes, you've always got it,” Scott said. “And I now shoot with four cameras, minimal. Eleven, if it's a big complex thing.”
Fassbender nodded, adding, "What I love about those first takes is no one knows what's going to happen. And there is that air of anticipation."
Anticipation translates into tension, in a movie with relentless jump-scares. Alien: Covenant isn't a perfect horror film, but it's a fun ride that will leave you appropriately unsettled by the end.
It’s rated R and opens May 19.
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