Alien vs. Predator: Horror Movie or Enemies-to-Lovers Romance?
By Alyssa Cole
A staple of Cole family fun time is watching movies, and though we are generally a peace-loving family, those movies are often of the violent variety: Hong Kong action flicks, Thai martial arts movies featuring flying kicks to the face, Bollywood bad guys, and Korean action romps. A little while ago I was home and we happened to land on 2004’s Alien vs Predator. I was ready to sit back and enjoy some horror movie hijinks, but I noticed something interesting… Aliens vs Predator is actually a romance, kindof?
Okay, I know. I know. Hear me out.
We meet our heroine Alexa Woods (played by Sanaa Lathan, she of the infamous Beyoncé face biting) scaling the side of a glacier, only slightly out of breath and still able to take a business call. She’s an environmental technician and guide (which sounds cool and mysterious), meeting the romance heroine standards of more being extremely capable, having a somewhat offbeat job, and all with great hair.
In a more horror movie style, she’s reluctantly heading off to lead an expedition to check out a strange structure in the arctic -- a pyramid beneath the ice (sure, why not). She’s of course the only woman, with various possible love interests (including the swoon worthy Sebastian de Rosa, an expert on pyramids whose hotness does not help him make it to the end of the film, alas).
But once things kick into gear and xenomorphs start awakening to clear out the pesky humans who have invaded their pyramid, it’s not sexy Sebastian who starts hitting the romance beats with Alexa, but half of the titular horror movie creatures the film is named for:
Okay, look, the predator is, how we say… problematic. I still remember watching the first movie as a child and being very confused as to why this killer alien creature fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger had dreadlocks. Let’s all agree that this is probably rooted in some weird, not-cool idea of the '80s “monster,” but I’ll save that essay for another time. We’re here for the romance.
Well, it’s not super cute. He’s trying to kill Alexa and her colleagues because, that’s just what predators do. Though, when a wellmeaning Lance Hendriksen tries to distract him so Alexa and Sebastian can get away, Pred (that’s what we’re going to call him) decides to let him live, foreshadowing that perhaps there’s some compassion beneath those layers of steel? (He does end up just killing Lance when he won’t be ignored). Alexa and Sebastian are busy running from Alien Xenomorphs and Pred, though alas Sebastian doesn’t make it, leaving room for love to bloom between Pred and Alexa.
Enemies no more?
Alexa stumbles upon Pred while trying to navigate her way out of the pyramid. He pulls out his weapon, but she hands over her own, telling him “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” which marks their transition from enemies to more. He’s wary, but then an alien attacks and she uses Pred’s weapon to try to kill it. Pred sees this go down and hey, he has to respect that, right? After reclaiming his weapon, he turns to leave instead of attacking her and Alexa follows, demanding he take her with him. Pred should kill her…instead he offers her a gift. A badass weapon and shield he makes himself from the carcass of the alien she killed. (Pred’s love language is clearly “acts of service.”) They then run off to battle the enemy together.
In it to win it…together
The head to the alien egg hatchery (which sounds like a home goods store) and Pred leaves a bomb behind. They make a run for the emergency escape sled (don’t ask), which only Alexa has a code for. When a xenomorph attacks Pred and he loses his weapon, Alexa doesn’t hesitate. She grabs it and, with a precise shot, kills the xenomorph when she could have easily shot both of them. This is the creature that tried to kill her and took out at least one of her teammates, but Alexa doesn’t leave anyone behind, evern murderous warrior aliens. He stands, clearly smitten with her act of bravery and loyalty (you can’t see this behind his full face mask, but you can so tell). They hop on the sled and escape in glorious action movie style.
Happily predator after?
With the pyramid destroyed, Pred opens himself up to Alexis…um, kind of literally.
As they share a tender moment, with Pred marking Alexis as a warrior using the xenomorph’s acidic blood, they are attacked by the Alien Queen. Though they once again join forces to defeat their enemy, Pred is injured…then they ride off into the Antarctic sunset and Pred spends the rest of his days on a farm. Okay no, this is more like a Nicolas Sparks ending than a romance, but I choose to believe that was only because the writers weren’t able to go all the way with the love story they’d set up. Watch this movie from about the halfway point and you can see that Alexis and Pred should have had at the very least a HFN (happy for now) ending. They were robbed!
Though The Shape of Water has made human/monster romances popular again, I maintain that Aliens vs. Predator is an honorary “Hm, this is pretty weird but I’m gonna roll with it” interspecies romance.
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About the Author
Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and SFF romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union is the winner of the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can often be found watching anime with her husband or wrangling their menagerie of animals.
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