Throughout this entire retrospective thus far, there has yet to be an entry from this franchise that I outright hate. The worst film I rated at this point was Alien: Resurrection, but even then, I got some fun out of it because of how utterly goofy it was. The point being that I’m somebody who holds these two franchises very dear to me. Heck, even Paul W.S. Anderson’s Alien Vs. Predator was shockingly entertaining, and I’m not even the biggest fan of his films overall.
So coming off of that film pleasantly surprised, I was crossing my fingers hoping that maybe it’s sequel, the 2007 Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem directed by The Brothers Stasure (who are known for their visual effects work on films like Titanic), wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being either. Who knows, maybe I can get something positive from that one as well.
And you know what? It’s not on the same level of quality I thought it was all these years ago.
Because it was in fact far, far worse than I could have even imagined.
I’ve watched plenty of abysmal films during my time, so let it mean something that watching AvP: Requiem was one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever done. For a 90-minute feature, I had to take around 5–10 breaks in between because the film was so dreadful to sit through.
If I want to be generous, I could give it a tiny smidge of credit and say that it was trying to add new elements on top of the formula through a new location set in a small town and featuring the Predalien, a hybrid of the alien and predator that was teased in the last movie. It’s such a shame that it doesn’t matter at all because whatever unique elements this film could bring to the table are utterly trashed by just how rotten the foundation of this story really is.
Taking two of science fiction’s most iconic icons, like the Alien and Predator, and turning them into slasher villains, ala Freddy vs. Jason, neuters what makes them special to begin with. There’s none of the craft and horror that made Alien and Aliens so defining in the genre. There are no subversions of the 1980s action tropes that made Predator such an efficient thrill ride. AvP: Requiem manages to do the seemingly impossible by making these two characters utterly dull to watch.
And because this film wants to retread the most tepid of the 2000s horror cliches, the characters and narrative make for a tired mess. There are character motivations and relationships that border on being downright incomprehensible in terms of why they even exist in the first place. There’s a cop who’s buddy-buddy with the main lead who got out of jail recently, because I don’t know. The story never says why so why should I? There’s also a teen romance subplot that’s asinine and filled with the type of hokey dialogue you can expect from the worst of 2000’s horror and, quite frankly, has no place in a movie that’s supposed to be about the Predator and Alien killing each other.
There are many things you can say about the first film and W.S. Anderson, but at least that film gave proper credit to the mythology, and for as shallow as the story and characters in that narrative were, they least did their job in building up to the cool action. And on their own merits, I didn’t outright hate it either. Requiem has none of the production value and technical skill of Anderson, which results in one of the most technically incompetent features I’ve ever sat through.
There are great stuntmen in costumes that look convincing and should make for fun set pieces, but they are utterly rendered meaningless by the real horror villains of the show. The lighting and editing in this film make just watching it a terrible chore. There have been plenty of jokes by all sorts of people about how you can’t see anything in the film, and you know what?
They were right. All of them. In the context of my own viewing experience, I watched the extended version. Which I read online was better lit than the theatrical cut. I was not even more than two minutes into the movie, and I was already struggling to comprehend what I was looking at onscreen. And it never improves from there. Even during the daytime, I was terrified that the editing gods from above would change the brightness slider to zero.
And yes, this was how The Brothers Stasure wanted this movie to look. Both of them thought that if the film looked too bright, then the monsters would just look like guys in suits. So, they made the lighting dark on purpose to make their appearances more suspenseful. While their intentions make sense on paper, when nearly 1/3 of the movie comes off a literal black screen on my television set, then maybe it’s time to dial it back just a weeny bit.
And there’s the editing, which isn’t as much joked about but is still a vital culprit in making the film hard to follow. There’s no sense of flow or space during the action scenes, and even during sequences where characters are exploring an environment, the lack of any sort of visual geography meant that at points I couldn’t understand where the characters were in relation to the locale. Simply put, The Brother Stasure had no real knowledge of how to direct a big motion picture, and that makes the entire film an amateur work in every way possible.
There’s no heart. No thrills. No scares. Any time it tries to take advantage of that R-rating that the previous film wasn’t privileged with, it comes off as the most cringe-worthy, edge-lord rubbish that lacks any sort of tact or understanding of what makes the franchises this film actively stains actually work. At this point in my marathon, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is cinematic rock bottom. There are other movies coming up that have a divisive reputation, but I fail to see how they can be any worse than this. It’s quite embarrassing and pathetic.