Main cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate Lloyd), Joel Edgerton (Sam Carter), Ulrich Thomsen (Dr Sander Halvorson), Eric Christian Olsen (Adam Finch), Trond Espen Seim (Edvard Wolner), Kim Bubbs (Juliette), and Jørgen Langhelle (Lars)
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr
John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror movie of the same name will always be one of the “must watch” movies for fans of horror, if you ask me. Therefore, one can only ask: what were those people doing with the 2011 movie of the same name? Is it a reboot?
Well, not really. This version of The Thing is actually a prequel, which attempts to show how the flesh-morphing cannibalistic alien found its way into the dog that started the whole mess in the 1982 movie. Fans of the other movie may get some thrill from how the script by Eric Heisserer provides bookends and how there are scenes of this movie that tie in perfectly with the other movie. Still, something is missing.
Oh yes, the story. Kate Lloyd, a paleontology student. is asked by her boyfriend Adam to join a team led by Adam’s mentor Dr Sander Halvorson, to the Norwegian base in Antarctica. Folks there had accidentally found what seemed to be an alien spacecraft and a body of its… pilot? At any rate, there is alien stuff, and Dr Sanders is keen to study it and make his mark in both science and history. As you can guess, the alien thing revives, assumes the shape of the animals and people it devours, and the fun begins.
Now, if you have not seen the 1982 version of The Thing, this one may be a solid watch. It delivers the usual scares and such, although the script can be a bit on the predictable side and it is easy to guess who will die and who will survive.
But if you have seen that other movie, like I have, you may feel, like me, that there is much about this movie that has been done before, and done better too, by John Carpenter and his crew. There is nothing here that is as beautifully horrifying as that scene with the dog in the previous movie, and the sense of paranoia and claustrophobia here – as in, anyone can be the Thing so you can’t trust even your best buddy – was done better in the previous movie too. That movie was claustrophobic and the scenery really suggested that the whole place was insanely cold, further adding to the sense of bleak desolation. Here, everything seems bright, a bit too bright to the point that I never get the impression that these people are up against the cruel blizzards and snowstorms of Antarctica in addition to the Thing.
More significantly, though, is that this movie isn’t scary. John Carpenter’s The Thing worked beautifully because one never had a clear good look at the alien until later in the movie when one is already creeped out by all the build-up and atmosphere. Here, however, the movie shows the alien way too early – in close-up too – and the CGI is often unintentionally comical and even more fake when compared to stop-motion animation of the other movie. The Thing in the other movie is horrifying and creepy, the one in this movie is just some very fake-looking CGI. Worst of all, the movie then has the alien running off to its spaceship, making everything even more ridiculous.
I mean, sure, this version of The Thing may be worth watching, if only out of curiosity for folks who have watched and enjoyed John Carpenter’s movie of the same name. But it is so inferior in so many ways, it may just end up giving one a new appreciation for John Carpenter’s movie. Which, come to think of it, may not be such a bad thing.