With every new studio release, Ridley Scott likes to remind us all of his background in advertising. The director behind the canonized “Nineteen Eighty-Four” Macintosh commercial tends to mount an inventive promotional campaign for each of his motion picture efforts — both Prometheus and The Martian showed off their elaborate, space-ready production design through early faux-featurettes, and Scott has pulled the same move today. This morning saw the release of a “prologue” video titled “The Last Supper” in relation to the upcoming sequel Alien: Covenant, and while it gives viewers a chance to familiarize themselves with the crew of a major interstellar colonization effort, it’s also a bait-and-switch unto itself.
The four-minute clip offers a glimpse into a celebration onboard the good ship Covenant, as its members prepare to sink into cryo-sleep for the journey to return home. Though terraforming expert Daniels (Katherine Waterston) doesn’t feel all that well, spirits are still high, with the various technicians fantasizing about all the tasty Earth food they can’t wait to eat again. But because this is a promo for an Alien movie, an uneasy undercurrent of dread runs through the video. When Callie Hernandez’s character starts to double over with a hacking cough during dinnertime, it can only spell doom... until it doesn’t.
Scott’s clearly alluding to his original Alien film and playing off the tension still lingering from the 1976 masterpiece. That film’s most memorable scene came during another supper, when the “chestburster” alien violently burst out of the torso of officer Kane (played in the film by the dearly departed John Hurt). Scott’s teasing us with the association, setting us up to believe something big is about to go down and then letting it fizzle out. The man’s toying with us. And of course, there are greater horrors still to come when Alien: Covenant debuts on May 19.