The Thing (2011) – Blu-Ray Review
I assume that the weight of expectation surrounding the release of The Thing is partly to blame for the reason no one wants to say ‘prequel’. But prequel it is, in fact there are many geek friendly nods to the first movie including the all-important ending. This is not ruining anything, if like me you LOVE John Carpenter’s The Thing then there are certain boxes you need the prequel to check. If you have not seen the 1982 version it will mean nothing to you anyway.
The reason that Carpenter’s Thing worked so well was down to two main factors, the (at the time) horrific special effects, all pre-CGI and gloriously effective but also down to the oppressive claustrophobic tone. The paranoia spreads fast, not just with those on screen but with us, the audience, the terror comes from not knowing who is real and who is an ‘imitation’. OK, we could go deeper and compare the paranoia to that of America in the 1980s with the threat of the Cold War ever present… but let’s face it; most of us just watch the film for a fright.
The 1982 Thing also sets up the premise and in actual fact, the conclusion, for this prequel and to stay faithful to the original we head into The Thing (2) with a sense of knowing and therefore expectation of the path it should take. So with this in mind, how do you deliver any surprises when so many questions have already been answered before shooting has even begun?
The answer is simple, stick close to the narrative of the first movie and make ‘The Thing’ bigger and more grotesque than before. Starting with the discovery of the creature trapped in the huge block of ice (as seen in the Carpenter version) the set-up is kept brief so we can get straight to the action.
The introduction of a feisty female lead, palaeontologist Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is for more than just eye candy or a clumsy romantic sub-plot. Despite her initial fear of the situation she soon takes charge and although much of her time is spent looking shocked or scared, she handles the role well and is almost capable of stepping into MacReady’s large snow boots. Almost.
Clearly director Matthijs Van Heijningen Jr. approached this project with care, although The Thing is in part CGI there are still enough physical effects to keep the die hards happy. So far, so good.
The final act is perhaps a little too ambitious and in stark contrast to the restrained ending of the Carpenter entry, you also get the feeling it is allowing the door to stay open for a third act.
Overall though, considering how loved the John Carpenter film is, The Thing 2011 stands its ground amicably well. The cast are believable, the little details are there for the aficionado to pick up on and the terror of a shapeshifting alien is still as powerful in 2012 as it was in 1982. Credit where credit is due, The Thing is a worthy addition to both the horror genre and more importantly, the original’s legacy.
Jules says…. 3.5/5