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  • 15
  • Horror
  • 2011

The Thing

The Thing

Synopsis

A shape-shifting monster is found in a buried UFO. Once defrosted, it proceeds to kill and impersonate various members of an Antarctic research facility, like a deadly Stars In Their Eyes variety act.

About

This is the kind of review where what we really need is a flowchart. Have you seen John Carpenters 1982 The Thing? No? Proceed directly to paragraph two. You have? Ok, so heres the deal. This film is a sort-of prequel, sort-of remake, sort-of inspired-by beastie that borrows many of the 1982 versions aesthetic choices and basic conceits. Just as the monster of the title takes a unique organic original and seeks to replicate it sufficiently well that it can pass as the same type of thing in the eyes of the unwary, so this remake is both The Thing, and also not The Thing, but a deceptive copy.

Taken on its own terms, this film provides some reasonably effective monster movie fun. If you have a friend who jumps easily at horror movies, theyll be jumping at several points here. (Whether these jumps are all earned by the filmmakers, or more a result of suddenly ramping the volume up on a sudden visual cue is a question for more seasoned horror hounds.) The filmmakers also introduce a language barrier between various characters, further exacerbating the paranoia and tension that is a hallmark of any isolated who-dunnit. Or in this case, who-is-it.

Ultimately what lets the 2011 incarnation of The Thing down somewhat is its state-of-the-art effects. Which is ironic, when you consider that the practical latex and corn-syrup effects are one of the crowning joys of the 1982 version created almost 30 years ago. Its de rigeur amongst film critics to carp about CGI, but here, some moaning is justified, precisely because they use CGI very effectively in some scenes, but ridiculously in others. There are moments in this film that represent the best of what CGI can accomplish and others where the sense that youre looking at a computer image overwhelms what should be the horror of the situation. This team know how to do good CGI, why cant they tell the difference?

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ulrich Thomsen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
  • Director: Matthijs van Heijningen

In a nutshell

Can't possibly compare to the film it's inspired by, but if you've not seen the 1982 version, you should find it reasonably harmless, albeit with an increasingly daft climax

by Catherine Bray

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