Thursday, August 4, 2022

‘Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem’ – Finding the Good in the Ultraviolent Mashup Slasher [The Silver Lining]

In this edition of The Silver Lining, we’ll be discussing the Strause Brothers’ controversial sequel, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem.

Despite fans clamoring for a live-action incarnation of the Alien vs Predator franchise, the proposed adaptation was infamously stuck in development hell for years until Paul W.S. Anderson finally brought it to the big screen back in 2004. While that film was (unfairly) lambasted by critics for being a crowd-pleasing B-movie that reduced its legendary extraterrestrials to mere intergalactic wrestlers, it still made quite the killing at the box-office.

That’s why it’s only natural that Twentieth Century Fox decided to cash in on the picture’s compelling cliff-hanger ending by almost immediately greenlighting a sequel. However, when Anderson exited the proposed rematch to work on his Death Race reboot, Fox had to look elsewhere for filmmakers willing to tackle their biggest sci-fi properties.

Wanting a director with experience in effects-driven blockbusters, the studio eventually selected the Strause Brothers to helm the project. The duo was already well-known for their special effects company Hydraulx, which had worked on everything from The X-Files to The Day After Tomorrow (they would also go on to create the surprisingly entertaining Skyline movies), but the brothers had also unsuccessfully pitched an AVP movie to Fox in the past, making them ideal candidates for a rematch.

Originally titled Alien vs. Predator: Survival of the Fittest, the sequel was set to follow the immediate aftermath of the first film, with the newly-birthed Predalien causing a Predator ship to crash-land in a small American town. Wanting to avoid a Xenomorph outbreak, the Yautja decide to send a lone Predator back to earth in order to clean up this extraterrestrial mess and exterminate the survivors with extreme prejudice.

With passionate filmmakers hell-bent on bringing both franchises back to their horrific roots with a hard R rating and a script that promised to finally bring the infamous Predalien to the big screen after the hybrid creature had been teased in games and comics for years, it’s easy to understand why fans were initially hyped for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.


It may not have been a financial flop, which is partially due to its drastically reduced budget, but Requiem’s critical reception was so negative that it managed to kill Fox’s plans for a third crossover despite making over $130 million at the box-office. The film currently sits at an abysmal 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the lowest ranking film in either franchise with near-unanimous bad reviews.

Pretty much every aspect of the production came under fire by critics, with the film being accused of further diluting Ridley Scott and John McTiernan’s classics while also throwing away most of what had made the first AVP enjoyable in the first place. The lower budget meant that the flick lacked the massive scale of its predecessor, with the Strause brothers being forced to deliver a more easily told story that didn’t require fancy sets and expensive production design.

This resulted in the film resembling something more akin to a cheap slasher flick rather than a sci-fi epic, featuring plenty of familiar genre tropes while hiding its shoddy production value behind dimly lit sets and shaky photography. In fact, many viewers complained that the experience was so dark that it was often hard to tell what was going on, which is never a good sign when the success of your movie hinges on watching iconic monsters battle it out.

Requiem also suffered from a series of rushed rewrites and reshoots, as well as a decent amount of studio-mandated censorship. The filmmakers were reportedly unsure of the story they wanted (or were allowed) to tell and were forced to rework several scenes after test audiences claimed that the finished movie was just too gory and depressing to be fun.

There was also quite a bit of controversy surrounding the picture’s unprecedented amount of violence, as several media outlets claimed that the sequel took its horror elements a bit too far during certain scenes involving pregnant women. These complaints may not have affected the box-office revenue, but they certain helped to hammer in the final nails in the crossover franchise’s coffin.


Aliens vs Predator requiem

The first AVP may have been an unfairly maligned product of its time, but it’s a lot harder to defend the low-budget thrills of Requiem. That being said, if taken out of context from the rest of the series, I honestly think that there’s still a lot to love about this mean little horror flick that isn’t afraid to push the limits of both franchises – even if it’s still the weakest entry of the bunch.

For starters, I adore how the flick follows a single Predator as one of its main characters. This lone hunter isn’t quite the protagonist of the story (though he should have been), but focusing on a morally ambiguous anti-hero definitely makes the movie more interesting. In fact, the film goes out of its way to give this creature a personality, giving him acid-disfigured mandibles and more agile mannerisms than his predecessors. The filmmakers even nicknamed him “Wolfe” as a nod to Harvey Keitel’s character from Pulp Fiction, who is also known for cleaning up other character’s bloody messes.

Requiem was also the first time that we’ve ever seen Xenomorphs running amok in human civilization, with the ravenous creatures devastating the once-quiet community of Gunnison, Colorado. The scenes where we actually get to witness the Predalien leading this extraterrestrial infestation are undeniably thrilling, featuring lots of gnarly gore and mean-spirited kills that really up the ante for both franchises. These ultra-violent moments might not be for everyone, but they allow the flick to compete with even the most brutal of slasher flicks, especially if you can get your hands on the unrated cut.

Aliens vs Predator: Requiem suffers from bad writing and several fan-film-esque moments, but if you can accept its schlocky ambitions you’ll be rewarded with a fun little genre picture that shows us Aliens and Predators at their most gruesome. I can’t quite call it a legitimately good movie, but it’s certainly one of the most entertaining alien invasion flicks out there, and it’s sure to please even the most demanding of gore-hounds.

Watching a bad movie doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad experience. Even the worst films can boast a good idea or two, and that’s why we’re trying to look on the bright side with The Silver Lining, where we shine a light on the best parts of traditionally maligned horror flicks.

The post ‘Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem’ – Finding the Good in the Ultraviolent Mashup Slasher [The Silver Lining] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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