Alien: Romulus | Combing the second trailer for nerdy clues

alien romulus second trailer
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The second trailer for Alien: Romulus contains all kinds of twisted xenomorph horror. We’ve been having a closer look at the finer details.

NB: The following contains conjecture and general theorising that may be considered spoiler-y. Nothing that hasn’t been revealed in the new trailer, though.

If March’s teaser trailer for Alien: Romulus played coy, this week’s promo, lasting a full two minutes, is where director Fede Alvarez really bears his teeth. In fact, this writer’s initial reaction was that the new trailer for the upcoming Alien film gives away a little too much.

On closer inspection, though, it cleverly drops all sorts of hints without spoiling too many specifics. The first minute, in particular, merely fleshes out what we’ve already gleaned from various loglines and interviews. Its events take place between Alien and Aliens, and sees a group of six scavengers board an abandoned Weyland Yutani space station. There, they encounter the dreaded xenomorph in its various forms – and perhaps something new that we’ll get to shortly.

Alvarez has previously said that his film is a hybrid of both Alien and Aliens, and we can see more of the influence of the latter in this second trailer. The colony protagonist Rain (Cailee Spaeny) and her fellow scavengers call home looks uncannily like Hadley’s Hope, the LV-426 settlement seen in Aliens – right down to the conical atmosphere processing plant seen right at the trailer’s start. (We appear to get a glimpse of the colony’s name here, though some of the letters are impossible to make out; ‘Jackson Isle’ perhaps?)

A distinctly Hadley’s Hope-esque atmosphere processing plant. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

The trailer also highlights something else Alvarez has said in interviews: that the space station where much of the film takes place is divided into two parts. The first is called Remus, and its architecture is older and resembles the era in which Alien is set. The second, Remus, is newer, and modelled on the design of Aliens.

We certainly see more of the latter in the new promo, including the ominous set of doors that divide the two: it’s emblazoned with a frieze depicting the founders of Rome (Romulus and Remus) suckling on a she-wolf. The same door also informs us that the Romulus is essentially a gigantic lab – and later shots provide a glimpse at what Weyland Yutani’s scientists have been up to.

That frieze is based on a sculpture called the Capitoline Wolf, fact fans. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

There are shots of facehuggers emerging from eggs, but these are gelatinous and synthetic looking rather than the leathery spores seen in previous movies. This implies that scientists have somehow reverse-engineered xenomorph DNA to create eggs without the need of a queen to lay them; one shot shows a window with what is almost certainly the word ‘chamber’ on it, hinting at an entire room dedicated to growing eggs and hatching facehuggers – presumably for further weapons research or something equally ill-advised.

Alien eggs, but not quite as we know them. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Predictably, these facehuggers quickly get to work on our group of scavengers, and it looks as though Alvarez has some creative twists on horrors we’ve previously seen. There’s a shot of Navarro (Aileen Wu) using some sort of X-ray device to reveal a chestburster wriggling about in her ribcage. British actor Spike Fearn, who plays a scavenger named Bjorn, has a particularly toe-curling close encounter with a facehugger.

Read more: Alien: Romulus | Combing the first trailer for nerdy clues

There are also a pair of shots that confirm just how much this film’s fully-grown xenomorph will resemble the one in Alien – the creature Ridley Scott once dubbed the ‘Big Chap’. There are subtle differences, but the similarities are unmistakable, from the metallic teeth to that milky, semi-translucent head.

The Big Chap’s back. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Other shots are more vague. There’s more than one sequence that points to synthetic human Andy (David Jonsson, playing a kind of surrogate brother to Cailee Spaeny’s Rain) discovering an alien nest. Another seems to depict a fight between Rain and the xenomorph in zero gravity, with the former protecting herself with the pulse rifle we saw in the March teaser trailer. (We also seem to get a shot of the aftermath of this fight; we see a figure, possibly Rain, surrounded by ribbons of what could be acidic xenomorph blood.)

Is that acid, floating in zero gravity? Credit: 20th Century Studios.

The real head-scratcher, though, comes at the one minute 11 mark. For a second or two, a pair of glistening talons come into focus. To this writer’s eye, they look uncannily like the second, smaller set of arms that sprout out of an Alien Queen’s torso. Wind forward to the one minute 45 mark, and there’s what looks like a xenomorph egg emerging from an ovipositor. But then, the egg looks smooth and gelatinous, and appears to have what look like facehugger digits wrapped around it.

Are those the tiny arms of an Alien Queen? Quite possibly. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Will an Alien Queen make an appearance in Romulus, or is this some other version of the creature we’ve never seen before? That some of the film is again set in a Weyland Yutani lab suggests we might be in for more genetically-modified abominations akin to the ones we saw in 1997’s Alien Resurrection.

Is that an ovipositor (the Queen’s egg sac) or something else? It looks familiar and strange at the same time. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Then we come to what might be the most enigmatic shot of all. It’s this one:

It’s a big lump of alien-looking… something or other. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

At first glance, it looks like a piece of space debris; on closer inspection, it looks distinctly… alien. It sort of looks like an egg, but not really. Could it even be the remains of the xenomorph that Ripley ejected into space at the end of Alien? You may recall the curious film still that 20th Century Studios shared on its Instagram account which showed what looked like Weyland Yutani scientists carrying something unidentifiable on a stretcher.

Could that have been this object? There have been persistent theories that the xenomorph DNA the Company has been experimenting on came from the creature blasted into space in 1979. This could be a further hint at that – or something else entirely.

There’s plenty to think about, then, even if the second trailer does appear to give away the grisly fates of at least two characters. In fact, another thing the promo reinforces is just how small Alien Romulus’s cast is: unless other characters are being kept back for a later reveal, there are only six humanoid protagonists in the whole thing – the aforementioned Rain (Spaeny), Andy (Jonsson), Navarro (Wu), Bjorn (Fearn), Tyler (Archie Renaux) and Kay (Isabella Merced).

Read more: Alien: Romulus and its possible connection to 1979’s Alien

It’s a smaller number than we saw even aboard the Nostromo (which had a crew of seven), while later Alien films had much larger casts. There’s something refreshing about the prospect of a smaller, younger cast, though. After some increasingly busy sequels, two tawdry spin-offs and a brace of prequels we’ll politely call divisive, it’s reassuring to see Alvarez take what looks like a back-to-basics approach.

Alien: Romulus is out in UK cinemas on the 16th August.

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