Allowing “us just to LIVE there”: Atmosphere and Audience Evaluations of the Alien Film Series

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This chapter focuses on an analysis of responses to the Alien sequels, gathered as part of the 2012–2015 Alien Audiences international audience project. Drawing on key discourses employed in these responses, this chapter will explore the significance of atmosphere, mood, and tone as a set of evaluative criteria employed by many respondents to measure consistency and continuity (as well as difference) across the film series, and the ways in which this can allow audiences to excuse flaws of plot and characterization within particular Alien films, in particular, the franchise’s troubled third installment, Alien 3 (1992). The chapter will draw on Robert Spadoni’s analysis of the textual employment of atmosphere within particular horror films, as well as key arguments from Mark J.P. Wolf on world-building, in order to consider how this critically prized but ‘nebulous’—and to date still relatively under-theorized—‘thing we call atmosphere’ can serve as a key anchor for invested audiences of the Alien series (Spadoni 2014b, 111). Allowing audiences, through this form of engagement, to foreground evaluative criteria which maintains the franchise’s perceived strong relationship with highbrow horror and genre production.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHorror Film Franchises
EditorsMark McKenna, William Proctor
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429060830
ISBN (Print)9780367183271
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


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