My good creative friends from London, Bart Reszelski and James Jackson, were asked by Audible (Amazon) to work on an original audio drama by providing creative routes for the promotion of the new audiobook, Alien: River of Pain.
Together we came up with a suite of short and crazy stories. They formed a basis for a set of viral videos presented together with the other digital marketing material.
I wrote scripts to three of them.
Alien: River of Pain is a cult novel written by Christopher Golden and published by Titan Books. It is also a final piece in the 2014 Alien novel trilogy. In 2017, an audio drama adaptation of the novel was released and published by Audible UK. The story documents the fall of Hadley’s Hope (a human colony established by Weyland-Yutani) after colonists rediscover the derelict spacecraft on the moon. The reader then follows the Xenomorphs’ rampage of the settlement and their clash with the surviving colonists and the small unit of Colonial Marines.
He had been taught to take the path
of honor even if it led to pain or death
What was the basic concept for the narrative?
Generally, people tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of their beliefs conflicts with another belief that they held on to so dearly? In both psychology and zombie movies it is called cognitive dissonance. We aimed to achieve this particular feeling.
We are inside a modernist, American house circa 1950s, looking at the scene from someone’s POV (Point of View). There is a feeling of being inside a video game. The camera scans the room. This type of shot brings a sense of anxiety and unease, despite the pleasant surroundings.
The main character is moving around hastily, as if he/she was looking for someone. Its gait is wobbly and mechanical. We can see Christmas decorations all around – a tall and proud Christmas tree with a stack of presents underneath, some candlelights arranged on the window. The lights are dimmed. It is an early evening.
We can hear muted voices. A woman calls on her children to come down for supper. We move forward following the voices. Upon entering the kitchen, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the little mirror that hangs above the kitchen table.
Our breath fastens; we walk closer to the woman who stands with her back to us at the sink, washing the dishes. She moves around, saying calmly: “Rob, darling?” The window behind her mirrors back our reflection – a monstrous, glossy creature with a double-pair jaws dripping with saliva. Her eyes widen, she opens her mouth to scream and that’s when we strike with our tail.
She is dead!
The door of a 7 Eleven type of convenience store slide open and a person walks through. It is dark outside, but in the store it is annoyingly bright.
An elderly clerk raises his head from a newspaper and suddenly he looks petrified. He freezes behind the counter and starts to scream manically.
Unfazed, the main character walks slowly to the to the fridge at the back of the store. He extends his black, greasy paw with long, protruding nails and grabs a single-serving meal plus a can of beer. He then walks out of the store without paying, while the cashier faints and drops to the ground (we can see it in the background).
The viewer is now following the creature’s steps. We can hear and feel him walking back to his flat, just opposite the shop. He walks one flight of stairs, breathing heavily, and enters the dark living room. Then he pops the lights on, throws his food on the table and opens the can (we can hear the click).
Then he walks towards the big mirror, where we catch his reflection. He is a Xenomorph, a terrifying Alien movie creature with a big head and a wicked double-jaw. After a second or two of watching himself, he takes his head off with a slightly muted groan.
Inside, we can see a middle-age man, slightly red-faced and sweaty. He sits loudly in the chair and takes a sip of beer, visibly proud of his prankly ways. In the background, we can see his room’s walls decorated with Alien movie posters.
We open with a close shot of an acrylic painting. Camera slowly pans out, gradually revealing the details of the picture. We see a man paralysed by fear, his face frozen in a weird contortion. He raises his hands up as if in pain or surrender.
Camera pulls back, revealing Xenomorph sticking out of a human chest. To our surprise, it is a living creature, not a part of the poster. Camera goes wide, showing the whole stage. No we can see clearly. This is a cardboard photo-booth, a feature typical of any amusement park.
Here, a rather amused Xenomorph couple is taking photos of each other in the booth (i.e. literally, sticking their heads out of the cardboard human’s chest). Camera pans out to the point where the viewer can see that the scene takes place in a derelict and abandoned amusement park. There are just a few aliens hanging out there leisurely – eating ice creams and drinking coke.
In this little movie aliens – typically portrayed as vicious predators – behave just like your next-door neighbours. The idea is to depict – in a humorist way – how changing the setting we can instantly change a perspective. In this world, who is an alien – a Xenomorph or a human?