The Thing Reviews
The Thing is a remake of a 1951 Howard Hawks film, which in itself is based on a novella, and the film was once again remade in 2011. Ultimately, this story is widely popular. But the funny thing is, the story doesn't feel all that special or unique. The film adapts the "whodunit" or rather "who is it" movie trope that has been used for as long as films have been made. I don't have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with this film feeling like a rip-off to Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien film. Right down to the chest bursting scene.
Some people may say that the original novella probably influenced Scott in making Alien, which may be true. But then why not change up a few plot points and shot selections instead of feeling overtly derivative from a film that is only a few years old. It also doesn't help that for all the blood, guts, jumps, and scares, we don't really get a look inside the minds of any of these characters. None of them are memorable, even Kurt Russell's flame throwing bearded helicopter pilot. Heck, we never even see the guy fly a helicopter.
I hate to keep bringing up Alien, so I'll compare the recent movie, Life. That film doesn't have anything new to add to the genre of "trapped-in-horror-thriller", but it consistently entertains you because you get to know each character and you care about them. The Thing's cast consists of a dozen or so men ranging from 30-65, and I don't remember any of their names or backstories. Why? Because the movie didn't take the time to establish either.
The Thing does do quite a few things well, though. The practical special effects are mind-blowing for a film from the early-80's. I would love to see some of the behind the scenes featurettes and how they were able to pull off some of the shots. If only the film didn't make me cringe every few minutes with its gratuitous blood spatters and gut bursting shots. The Thing also did a nice job at pacing out the deaths and jump scares where it didn't feel too overpowering at any one point but it also never got to the point of boredom either. Not to mention Ennio Morricone's haunting main theme that plays throughout the film. That will surely send chills down anyone's spine. So overall, The Thing is another Carpenter film to get a mixed response from me. He's a good filmmaker, but I highly doubt I will ever sit down a re-watch his films as religiously as some film fans do. Perhaps I'd like Howard Hawks version better.
-No character depth
This is about a group of scientists working in Antarctica. Eventually they find a husky which appears to be infected with something far sinister which begins to spread.
The movie's main focus is its special effects. Despite the fact that they are over 30 years old, they still look just as grotesque and disturbing today as they did back in 1982. Because of the special effects, several scenes have become iconic. The most famous one being the chest defibrilator scene which was really unexpected.
The movie shows us how the scientists quickly turn on each other after they discover that the thing can look like any one of them. The viewer keeps pointing fingers throughout the film and it's a surprise every time one of them is revealed to be infected.
The movie's ending is ambiguous and it has inspired a lot of discussions and debates in social media sites. Its ending leaves plenty of room for re-watching the film to look for clues you might have missed your first viewing. I'm not going to spoil anything but it is quite a shocker.
The tension is cranked up more since the characters are cut off from the outside world. This concept was borrowed by "Alien" and it heavily influenced "Aliens". Unfortunately, this movie failed at the box office probably since it was released 2 weeks after "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial". But its great production choices with effects and concepts is what made it into a cult classic.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: This is a gripe I've always had, but it is kind of significant. When they first make their discovery, the overall reaction is unbelievably subdued. When everything else is so well-built, this really takes you out of the moment.
VERDICT: A near-perfect thriller that grips and excites; 'The Thing' is frankly nothing short of a masterpiece. I love this thing.