opinion

OPINION: Let's have a blind hero

From Perception, by The Deep End Games/Feardemic

From Perception, by The Deep End Games/Feardemic

by Patrick Greene

We’ve all been talking about the future of the Alien franchise even more than usual lately, and that’s got me thinking about the sort of story I’d personally like to tell.

I’ve been playing various survival horror games for most of my life, so I’ve gotten pretty used to the usual tropes. But three games that scared the absolute shit out of me in recent years were PT (the Silent Hills playable trailer/demo); Alien: Isolation (obviously); and Perception (wherein you play a blind protagonist forced to navigate through echolocation).

And I’ve been thinking: how cool would it be to have a very small, very tight Alien film with a blind hero? We talk a lot about “putting the monster back in the dark,” and to me this’d be the most evocative way of doing so.

As the audience, we’d obviously still see everything. But identifying with a protagonist who can’t see the beast would set up a whole new set of fascinating dilemmas. What if the hero is trapped in a space they haven’t experienced before, and is forced to navigate with sound? Would it draw the alien towards them?

And traditionally, one of the chief advantages a xenomorph has over a human is its ability to creep in the darkness. What if the human were just as comfortable in those spaces? Could they turn the tide on the alien?

Plus, I’d love to have sequences where there’s virtually no visible light, but sound is extraordinarily amplified. Some of the best moments in the films come through sound cues. The chains rattling in Alien; the beeping proximity detector in the hive in Aliens; the howling windstorms on Fury 161. What if we were immersed in darkness and subject to extraordinary sound editing that felt like we were truly trapped with the monster?

I’ve also been thinking a lot about dreams lately (more on that coming in a separate post). A number of my favorite sequences in the expanded universe have been rooted in dreams (the Queen Mother, for example). Various rejected/altered scripts for the films have featured extended dream sequences that are absolutely fascinating. What if this blind hero, unable to process visual light in physical space, were more attuned to dream frequencies coming from a Queen Mother? Without being distracted by horrifying sights in the physical world, perhaps they’d be able to wage a deeper war in the dream space.

Just a thought, but I think it’d be a ton of fun to experience what a filmmaker like, say, Alex Garland (PLEASE) could do with this idea.

The Queen Mother, as seen in  Aliens: The Female War  (originally  Aliens: Earth War ). Art by John Bolton.

The Queen Mother, as seen in Aliens: The Female War (originally Aliens: Earth War). Art by John Bolton.