Finally an Alien film worthy to be called an Alien film. Director Ridley Scott has finally brought the franchise back to its roots. His new film Alien: Covenant is a success on many levels, but above all it brings the horror that had been missing from the series for quite some time.

It’s been a rocky path for the Alien franchise. The first sequel was perfection in 1986. The ballsy move to replace Scott with James Cameron more than paid off. Changing the tone to an action movie resulted in one of the strongest sequels ever made, and is still beloved by audiences. Then came the abysmal Alien 3 in 1992, which followed Ripley when her ship crash-lands on a prison planet. The movie is rough to sit through, and kills off her character at the end. David Fincher has since disowned it saying due to studio tampering not a lot of his original vision ended up on screen. Alien Resurrection in 1997 is equally a mess, but has some memorable moments in it. Bringing Ripley back from the dead this time with Alien DNA was a nice touch, but the film had trouble landing its execution. The big problem with 3, and Resurrection was always story, and that they never created a path for Ripley to take that was ever worthy of her. Her story still feels unresolved in the Alien cannon.

In 2012’s Prometheus, brought back Scott to the director’s chair. Upon the release it was shrouded in secrecy if it was an original film, sequel, or prequel. Prometheus turned out to be a prequel of the sorts to his original Alien. Setting up the Weyland funded journey to the planet, which we as Alien fans know as LA-426. With a very brief appearance from a Xenomorph at the end of the movie the film didn’t quite please as many fans as it could have. But, Prometheus was still an interesting back door attempt to restart the franchise, and was a warm up act to the Alien: Covenant.

The new film takes place ten years after the events of Prometheus introducing us to a ship called the Covenant, which is on its way from Earth to colonize a newly discovered planet in another solar system. On the ship are the central characters of the android Walter (Michael Fassbinder, who’s playing an upgraded “David”), and Daniels (Katherine Waterston). Everyone on board is a couple who are helping colonize the newly discovered planet.

After a fatal accident awakes the emergency crew aboard they discover a mysterious signal coming from a nearby planet. Thinking that the planet might appear to support life, and curious about the signal, they redirect the Covenant to the mysterious detour. Needless to say things don’t go as according to plan when they discover what this dangerous new world has in store for them. I’ll keep any further spoilers to myself since part of the fun is seeing the plot unfold.

What Scott does here is return the series back to its horror roots. Scott has always said the first Alien was a really just haunted house movie in outer space. Citing inspirations like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the B-movie Planet of the Vampires, Scott always wanted to frighten audiences by making a heightened mix of genre movies. Covenant really feels like the original in this regard. There are scenes in it that are utterly terrifying. This one really captures the thrill of what it would have been like to first see the Alien appear on screen in 1978. Seeing it in a packed screening at the Fox Lot proved this. When the Xenomorph exploded out of the first chest the audience erupted with both excitement and horror. This is what we go to the movies for after all.

The Alien films have also been very female driven. From Ripley, Newt, the Alien queen, Cal, to Elizabeth Shaw in Prometheus, women have always been the driving force. Katherine Waterston is exciting to see step into the role as the audience’s Ripley surrogate. Sporting a Sigourney Weaver inspired shag haircut she’s a nice touch to the pantheon of strong females that have emerged from these films.

Alien: Covenant fills the void of what had been missing from the previous films. It cleverly expands the mythology, and recreates some memorable scenes from the series. This is the second in a planned trilogy from Scott it opens the door to new Alien movies. It helps improve Prometheus by telling more of its story, and triumphantly returns the series beloved Xenomorph back the screen. The end result will hopefully satisfy fans of the series.