The movie “The Thing,” released on Oct. 14 is not the most frightening film you will see this year, but it can stand on its own as a horror movie.
Penned as a prequel to the original 1982 film, the 2011 “The Thing,” directed by Matthijs van Heinjningen, Jr., clears up exactly what happened at the Norwegian Research Facility prior to the 1982 film’s events.
The movie felt promising at first but quickly developed into a basic cookie cutter horror movie. In fact, for those familiar with the original film, it feels much more like a remake than a prequel. In the most basic sense, it essentially feels like the same film with a new group of actors and some pretty computer graphic special effects slapped on top.
When the original “The Thing” opened in 1982, it was met largely with a mixed reception and generally poor box office sales. Despite the underwhelming performance, “The Thing” went on to become a cult classic in the horror movie genre, praised by fans and critics of the genre for its groundbreaking make-up and special effects and paranoia-inducing monster.
The premise remains the same as the original; a shape-shifting alien who takes on the forms of its victims and invades an Antarctic research team. The remaining humans, reluctant to trust any of their comrades, must fight for their survival against a hidden threat.
The new film stars a whole new cast of characters, including lead actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays a level-headed, American paleontologist; Joel Edgeton, who plays a Vietnam Veteran and grizzled helicopter pilot; and Ulrich Thomson, the ambitious leader of the Norwegian research team.
The action feels rushed in some parts, especially before the creature finally appears. There are quite a few startling moments in the film. Although most were pretty predictable, there were a few that actually were surprising.
The monsters of the film were certainly chilling and nauseating, however, the CGI felt a bit overdone in places, especially when compared to the simple but effective make-up techniques used in the original John Carpenter film. Still, the goriness and the grotesque quality of the aliens were two aspects that worked well.
The acting was basic and plain, nothing horrible but nothing spectacular either. The cast didn’t feel as colorful or interesting as the one John Carpenter put together in 1982, and the characters weren’t very memorable. In fact, it was pretty hard to distinguish most of the minor characters from each other. It’s hard to try and gain sympathy from the audience when all of the victims of the alien are basic horror movie stock.
Whereas the original “The Thing” was groundbreaking through its use of practical yet frighteningly realistic effects, and novel in its underlying sense of paranoia and uneasiness, the 2011 release is none of these things.
All in all, van Heijningen Jr.’s version had enjoyable moments, but it wasn’t enough to reach the cult status of Carpenter’s version. Although not a horrible film in any sense of the word, it certainly doesn’t live up to the bar set by the original film.