The Short View – Alien: Night Shift (2019) / Alien: Ore (2019)

For a look at the previous two shorts, Alien: Containment and Alien: Specimen, click here.


alien nightshift

Synopsis:
When a missing space trucker (Tanner Rittenhouse) is discovered hungover and disoriented, his co-worker (Terrance Keith Richardson) suggests a nightcap as a remedy. Near closing time, they are reluctantly allowed inside the colony supply depot where the trucker’s condition worsens, leaving a young supply worker (Ambar Gaston) alone to take matters into her own hands.

Running Time:
9 minutes

Directed and Written by: 
Aidan Brezonick


Alien ore

Synopsis:
Lorraine (Mikela Jay) longs to make a better life for her daughter and grandchildren. When her shift uncovers the death of a colleague under mysterious circumstances, Lorraine is forced to choose between escape or fighting for the safety of her family.

Running Time:
10 minutes

Directed and Written by:
Kailey Spear and Sam Spear


After watching four of these new Alien-related shorts, it’s clear that there is a lot to appreciate. But it has become increasingly noticeable that the shorts are insanely similar in their approaches. A female protagonist, trapped in a small space, facing off against some aspect of the alien life-cycle. Perhaps these elements were forced edicts from the folks at 20th Century Fox. If so, it’s disappointing the studio did not consider selecting shorts that stepped away from the Alien formula.

But, as previously mentioned, there is still a lot to appreciate. Ore, in particular, is quite refreshing in relation to its type of protagonist. While the previous three shorts (as well as Prometheus and Alien: Covenant) cast relatively young women, Ore chooses a much older actress as its leading-lady. Though seemingly a simple change, such a choice ably drives home the long-term oppression that Weyland-Yutani (the infamous “company” from the Alien Saga) delivers upon its helpless employees.

But “helpless” is also not a description that could be considered accurate when considering the complexity of Jay’s performance in the lead role. With the grime of long working hours streaked across her weathered face, her unbreakable sense of hope throughout the short is a testament to the actresses’ ability to create a believable life, despite our limited time with her.

In addition to this excellent performance, Ore also has the added benefit of presenting its protagonist as making one rather unique choice compared to the previous shorts. To reveal more would be too much of a spoiler, but its refreshing to see an attempt to do something different, despite the (assumed) restrictions.

Night Shift, however, doesn’t succeed in quite the same way. Though it possesses an astoundingly lit opening shot, the short overall has a bit of a pacing issue. The first act, for example, is a little meandering; especially considering it takes at least a third of its running time until all the characters are trapped in the mandatory “small space.”

The short also ends up being quite weak on the character front, with very little to differentiate the protagonist from the previous shorts. Also, while I appreciate it can be quite difficult to avoid cliches with such a brief running time; did we really need a street-wise-talking black guy who steals? (Though Richardson’s performance itself was very commendable.)

Overall, it’s clear that Ore comes out on top as the superior short, not just when compared to Night Shift; but also with all three previous shorts. Here’s hoping the best was saved till last with Alien: Harvest and Alien: Alone.

What are your thoughts?