'The Tomorrow War' Director on How the Horrifying Aliens Were Created

The Tomorrow War, directed by Chris McKay, features some pretty scary monsters. The White Spikes, the aliens responsible for a horrific future war, look as evil as their actions suggest, and this took a long process of design work.

In the movie, Chris Pratt stars as Dan, a father and biology teacher who previously served in the army.He, along with other civilians, is sent to a war zone in the future after it is revealed an alien race has taken over.

Dan suddenly finds himself using his scientific and army skills to his benefit, leading others in their quest to rid the world of the White Spikes.

Speaking to Newsweek, McKay spoke of the long process they went through to try and figure out the look for the White Spikes.

He said: "We talked to a lot of different designers and ultimately came up with a really great design. I wanted them to feel ancient, I wanted them to feel like they have a history that their skin has, you know, nicks and cuts and eczema and psoriasis.

"I wanted them to feel like they have fungus growing on them, you know, they've got hard and soft surfaces... I wanted them to feel hungry. I wanted to feel like they have an inexhaustible hunger. So for the males, I wanted their bellies to be sucked in. They wanted to have teeth, it looked like a dental nightmare, because clearly they don't clean their teeth. It's just whatever goes through their mouth.

"And I wanted them to have a feral intelligence, that they understood their communication like coyotes and wolves can, you know, they will hunt in packs and run plays to stalk their prey. I wanted you to, even if you didn't understand what they were saying that you understood that they were running plays that they could communicate with each other. They were, yeah, feral feral intelligence was a big part of it."

Much of this hunger and feral intelligence is important to the film's plot, as this alien race hunts humans to eat, thus causing the world irrevocable damage.

Given their name—White Spikes—artillery was important and also took a great deal of time to work out.

He added: "They needed some sort of offensive weapon capabilities. So they had the tentacles and the spikes, and they could shoot."

Another aim for McKay and the visual effects team, including Ken Barthelmey, was to create texture, changing contrast levels on shots and adding more "nick and cuts" in their skin to make them as realistic as humanly possible.

The White Spikes are revealed in a frightening moment when Dan and his cohorts are sent to a research facility, which has been taken over by the beasts.

Talking through this scene, McKay explained how he was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and horror movies to build tension.

He said: "I knew that we were building tension, right... but like, you've got an army of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, got a lot of pressure on them...

"You're kind of seeing this whole movie through Chris's perspective, right? Like, Chris is in every single scene, not a single scene without Chris.

"And there's not a single scene or moment in the movie that you couldn't credibly think that Chris experienced, on some level... in trying to make this as immersive. And in, you know, immersing you into this guy Dan's point of view, it makes the movie as much of a subjective experience as possible."

In the scene, the group slowly descends stairs while the White Spikes wait for their moment to pounce on them.

When the aliens are finally revealed, McKay said he tried to put them together "like a Picasso painting" so viewers take some time to see the entire figure.

He said: "I also wanted you to kind of, you know, because the White Spikes were designed in a certain way, I kind of wanted you to just see them to try to put the audience in a perspective of our heroes.

"When they're just seeing a piece of a tentacle, a silhouette of a head, sort of like a Picasso painting, you don't know what this thing looks like.

"So you're just kind of putting these shapes together in your mind. And then suddenly, they sort of come out and then attack and to me it kind of destabilizes the audience and it kind of puts you in a little bit in the scene."

To create the tension, dark light, heavy breathing sounds and the oppressive sound of silence were also used... Hopefully much to audiences' delight, or dread.

The Tomorrow War is out on Amazon Prime now.

Chris Pratt in The Tomorrow War
Chris Pratt in The Tomorrow War
Chris Pratt in The Tomorrow War
The cast of The Tomorrow War
The cast of The Tomorrow War
Yvonne Strahovski in The Tomorrow War
A selection of stills from The Tomorrow War