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Romulus Is Continuing A Terrifying 38-Year-Old Franchise Trend

Romulus Is Continuing A Terrifying 38-Year-Old Franchise Trend


  • Facehuggers attack from the water in “Alien: Romulus,” connecting the film to past installments for fans.
  • Water attacks contribute to intense horror moments, linking “Romulus” to earlier movies in the franchise.
  • “Alien” movies consistently feature water, symbolizing primal fear and the natural order in the series.

Fede Álvarez’s Alien: Romulus is returning to a seminal point in the Alien timeline – giving many fans hope that the series will finally be revived – but while the movie’s wider context is important, there are signs that it will also connect to old franchise tropes in more subtle ways. After years in the wilderness, Alien: Romulus is bringing Alien back to its roots. Set between Alien and Aliens, the film offers a fresh start following the lukewarm response to Ridley Scott’s prequel films. Yet while filmmakers undoubtedly hope Romulus moves the franchise forward, its success will still be rooted in its links to the past.

As part of his promotion for the upcoming movie, Fede Álvarez has been explicit in acknowledging the influence other Alien movies have had on his creative process. As he explained in an interview with THR: “I love all of those movies. I didn’t want to omit or ignore any of them when it comes to connections at a story level, character level, technology level and creature level. There’s always connections from Alien to Alien: Covenant.” This attitude proves that Romulus will be replete with other Alien references and allusions. Judging by the Alien: Romulus trailer, however, one specific returning trend is particularly exciting.

Alien: Romulus Includes Facehuggers Attacking In Water

It’s A Terrifying Scene

Without revealing too much in the way of plot, the Alien: Romulus trailer has highlighted some key points of interest ahead of the upcoming sci-fi horror movie. Revelations such as the existence of the Romulus lab and the fate of some supporting crew members provide a tantalizing glimpse at what’s to come. However, one more subtle moment hints at the extent to which other Alien movies’ DNA runs throughout Romulus.

At around one minute into the trailer, one of Alien: Romulus‘ young cast is seen frantically splashing about in a dingy flooded room. As his compatriot tentatively asks him “what’s happening?” the man responds that “there is something in the water“. As he becomes increasingly agitated, a facehugger suddenly leaps out of the murky depths, trying to attach itself to his face and impregnate him with a chestburster. This brief scene already suggests Alien: Romulus will be full of the intense horror that fans expect from an Alien movie. However, the presence of an aquatic Alien attack actually links Romulus to several previous franchise installments.

Romulus’ Facehugger Attack Continues A Trend Established In Aliens

Its Water Attack Sequence Was Legendary

While seeing facehuggers launch themselves unseen from underwater is a new innovation for the franchise, it is far from the only time that Alien movies have used water to heighten the terror. The most famous example undoubtedly comes from Aliens. As Ripley, Hicks, and Newt are desperately trying to escape an onrushing xenomorph horde, Newt slips and falls into an underground river. While Ripley and Hicks race to find her, she creeps through the water, trying to remain undetected – suddenly realizing that she’s not alone.

Just as Ripley and Hicks are about to rescue her, an alien emerges from the water behind Newt, grabbing her and taking her back to the main alien hive and the queen. It remains one of the scariest scenes in the movie, since the initial jump scare combines perfectly with the horrific uncertainty of what’s happened to Newt. While the xenomorphs in Aliens are frequently shown camouflaging themselves amidst their surroundings, the water attack is the first time they’re seen using water to ambush their prey so explicitly.

The fact that
Alien: Romulus
is bringing back this method of attack not only shows a willingness to be inventive when it comes to scaring the audience, but also an awareness of what’s come before in the franchise.

Although Aliens was the first film to include a surprise water attack, it certainly wasn’t the last. While Alien Resurrection received middling reviews from fans and critics, one of the movie’s most effective moments was another underwater scene. Here, alien aggressors are seen hunting the crew of the Betty, swimming after them as they desperately try to swim to safety. The fact that Alien: Romulus is bringing back this method of attack not only shows a willingness to be inventive when it comes to scaring the audience, but also an awareness of what’s come before in the franchise.


Now This Looks Like The Alien Movie I’ve Been Waiting For

Alien: Romulus’ trailers have done a great job of teasing the movie’s horror tone, and it’s shaping up to be the best Alien movie in decades.

Every Alien Movie Features Water To Some Extent

It’s A Key Symbol Throughout The Franchise

Alien (1979) Harry Dean Stanton as Brett

It looks like Alien: Romulus will join Aliens and Alien: Resurrection as the only Alien movies to feature a direct xenomorph attack from water. However, while this detail marks these installments out, it’s important to acknowledge that water has actually played a vital symbolic role throughout the franchise. In fact, every Alien movie, to a greater or lesser extent, has featured water to some degree, highlighting its significance as a recurring motif.

In Ridley Scott’s original Alien, for instance, the first fully-grown xenomorph attack on Brett takes place in a chain-filled room where water droplets fall from the ceiling. In Alien 3, a key part of the prisoners’ plan to fight the xenomorph threat involves using a combination of fire and the sprinkler system. Prometheus‘ deadly hammerpede emerges from a mysterious black stream, while Covenant has a memorably gruesome kill in the shower. While not as clearly water-based as Aliens, Resurrection, and Romulus, these moments highlight how water flows throughout the franchise.

Why The Alien Movies Are So Obsessed With Water

It Serves Multiple Functions In The Series

Alien Covenant Shower Death

There are several reasons why water appears in every Alien movie. On a superficial level, it is an easy way to create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. Water in space automatically feels unnatural, subconsciously making any viewer uneasy. There’s also something sinister about its impenetrability, with the fear of something monstrous attacking out of the depths triggering a primal response in both characters and audience members.

Beyond this, however, water acts as a potent symbol of the Alien movie’s exploration of the dark heart of nature. Its presence indicates a return to the natural order, where human technological prowess matters little. The alien itself is the embodiment of this theme: a savagely beautiful killing machine that Ash memorably describes as “the perfect organism“. The recurring use of water is a way to link human characters to their evolutionary past where they were just another link in the food chain. Its reappearance in Alien: Romulus indicates that Álvarez’s movie will continue to explore this existential theme.

Source: THR

Alien Romulus Poster Showing a Facehugger Attacking A Human

Alien: Romulus

Fede Alvarez

Release Date
August 16, 2024

Cailee Spaeny , David Jonsson , Archie Renaux , Isabela Merced , Aileen Wu , Spike Fearn

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