This week Owen does what many think is inconceivable and defends AvP: Requiem. Wait, wait… just hear the man out! And let us know your thoughts…
In 2007 the Aliens versus Predator franchise released a sequel to their first Alien vs Predator effort entitled Requiem. It has gone down as a poor movie but I don’t think so. The writers decided to go in a different direction, one that had been done in various comic book forms before this.
In the first movie the setting was an ancient temple found under the Antarctica where the Predators were using humans as hosts to hunt down aliens. They had a Queen imprisoned there laying eggs for their hunts. At the climax a Predator had been implanted by a face hugger and we saw a new Alien/Predator hybrid being born. Requiem picks up straight from this point as the Predator ship crashes on Earth in a forest by a town called Gunnison.
This movie shocked me when I saw it as it took the notion of what exactly would happen if an alien nest sprung out on Earth. And the writers don’t shy away from the consequences. Right from the get go, the audience is under no illusion - nothing is sacred in this movie as a father and son are taken by the huggers. The sight of an alien embryo bursting from a child’s chest is disturbing enough and from here on in the movie never lets up. Taking to the sewers, the alien/predator hybrid spawns a brand new nest and the Aliens begin to spread across the town. A solitary Predator hunter is sent to exterminate what they think is a solitary outbreak but it is soon obvious that one Predator will not be enough.
Many of the iconic images from previous movies are paid homage to, including the iconic image from Alien 3 of Ripley backed against a wall and an Alien slobbering in her face. In AVP the flashback shot of thousands of aliens swarming over the steps of a temple left audiences wishing they could see more of the same. In Requiem they get exactly that as we see a hospital covered in the creatures as they use the staff and patients within to create new aliens.
As I said, nothing is off limits and this is a movie that takes the invasion to its logical consequences. There is no happy endings here as the Predalien enters a labour ward and implants every woman there with multiple eggs that hatch. I remember watching open-mouthed at this scene, scarcely believing that the writers went so far and yet it is exactly what would happen if the invasion had been real. It also reinforces that the Aliens have no conscience or morals; they exist only to populate their species and the shock of using a normal town filled with normal families with hopes and fears is jaw dropping.
We, as an audience, can identify with families as they go about their daily business, completely unprepared for such an event as everything they had is consumed by the Alien force. Those that fight back are facing a hopeless battle and we feel for them as the military feed them a false hope until the apocalyptic climax where there is only one solution to save the planet itself. But that’s what Requiem is – a hard-hitting movie that shows the results of what Ripley feared from the first movie; that if one of these Aliens got to Earth then the consequences would be devastating.
For me, the shadow of Ripley was never far away as we watch her darkest terror unfolding; this was her battle even when she was cloned and brought back, sacrificing her own offspring in Alien Resurrection to stop these events ever taking place. It is the ordinary setting that makes the Alien infestation so shocking to the audience and the ordinary townsfolk; the waitress, the hunter, the construction worker or nurses and doctors. You are desperate for some hope, some salvation with the predator as the good guy but it doesn’t come. And for all its horrific images it is the ones that we don’t see that haunt us; the newborn babies in the nursery, knowing there are helpless people lying in hospital beds unable to defend themselves against the Aliens and the face huggers. People asleep in their beds planning for tomorrow as their deaths stalk the ground outside their windows. Nothing can stop this attack, not weapons, not tall buildings, not heavy vehicles. Nothing can stand against the Aliens and that’s the real terror of this movie.
Where it lets us down is that only one Predator appears and you can see where critics and fans wanted to see a full scale battle between the two. Even as you know the bomb is going to fall you’re hoping that Predator ships are going to appear and wipe out the Aliens and save what humans are left; humans that once again prove to the warriors they are equal to any Predator in spirit and fight. But in the end it is too late and everything is lost.
Fans hated the movie, critics dismissed it as nonsense, but for me this was the ultimate warning and the most logical – and more importantly real - portrayal of what would happen if the Aliens got to Earth. It scared the hell out of Ripley and by the end of this movie you can see why..