The Thing – Snow need to panic

the_thing_wallpaperThe Thing is a prequel set before The Thing, which was originally a remake of The Thing From Another World, based on a novella which wasn’t called The Thing.

The original novella Who Goes There? told the story of a vicious shape-shifting alien, which had previously crash landed in Antarctica and frozen in the ice. Discovered by researchers, and subsequently thawed, the creature goes around generally causing chaos, violently murdering the protagonists, ingesting their corpses and imitating them individually, thereby creating a sort of whodunit horror.

In 1951, it was given a typically American movie reinvention, replacing Antarctic researchers with the U.S. Air Force. The Thing From Another World was a hit, but the adaptation was rather loose, and in 1982 John Carpenter stepped in and gave us a an intense horror masterpiece which was far more loyal to its source.

The Thing 1982 took the whodunit horror concept and joyfully played with it for an hour and a half. Kurt Russell was brilliant in the lead role of MacReady, and the creature effects were as elaborate as they were shocking. It was horrific, but heart-pounding fun and a riveting watch, as each character tried to work out who had been infected with The Thing, before meeting a brutal demise. Upon being rumbled, those infected would freak out and split into some kind of deformed mess of filth. Grim.

Now there is a prequel; first and foremost, just calling it The Thing, like its predecessor, was a stupid idea. Moving on, there are two ways of looking at The Thing 2011; either it is a loving and loyal tribute to, and story expansion of, John Carpenter’s 1982 effort of the same name, or it is a horrible cash-in. Although if you want to cash in on a movie, best not to wait 30 years. This has been evidenced by the meagre box office takings.

The Thing prequel tells the story of the research team which discovered the alien; this group was there shortly before Kurt Russell’s MacReady arrived to take part in the grisly madness, and received mention in the 1982 movie.

The story was already set for a prequel, and it’s surprising it took this long to happen. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Die Hard 4.0, Scott Pilgrim) joins a team of Scandinavian researchers to investigate something they find in the ice. The creature thaws and does a lot of the same stuff that took place in the earlier film.

It’s fast-paced, lively and entertaining, even if it simply hits a lot of the same beats as Carpenter’s movie. It has several nods and homages to that film, but it never feels cheap or pointless. The Thing 2011 loves The Thing 1982, and the respect shown gives this cinematic effort much needed authenticity.

Winstead is excellent; her character is a great contrast of sorts to Russell’s MacReady, and certainly offers shades of a young Ellen Ripley.

The film won’t win awards for originality or scriptwriting, but many of the creature effects are practical instead of CGI which offers a sense of continuity, and the direction is sharp and slick, making for an enjoyable watch.

The Thing is no-thing special, but some-thing well worth watching.

DVD Rental 7/10

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