Synopsis: Antarctica: an extraordinary continent of awesome beauty. It is also home to an isolated outpost where a discovery full of scientific possibility becomes a mission of survival when a creature is unearthed by a crew of international scientists. In the thriller The Thing, paranoia spreads among a group of researchers as they encounter something inhuman that has the ability to turn itself into an exact replica of any living being.
Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across a creature buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the ice eons ago. But it is about to wake up.
When a simple experiment frees the thing from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew’s pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish.
Release Date: October 14, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The Thing follows a paleontologist named Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) who is asked to go to a Norwegian research station in Antarctica by a scientist named Dr. Sander Halversen to investigate an extraterrestrial discovery. Once there, the visitors learn that the team has not only found a U.F.O. under the frozen ice, but they’ve brought its inhabitant back to their outpost, frozen in a block of ice. While everyone on the base celebrates their huge scientific breakthrough, the alien escapes and, after it kills one of their colleagues, the others track it and burn it to death. While performing a scientific autopsy on it, Kate discovers that the creature can imitate any cell it comes into contact with perfectly, which means that they have no way of knowing who’s human and who’s not. With the help of the only other person she can trust, a helicopter pilot named Carter (Warrior‘s Joel Edgerton), Kate must kill or quarantine the alien before it reaches any type of civilization.
The big debate surrounding The Thing is whether it’s a remake or a prequel. The answer is that it’s both. It’s a remake of the original 1951 The Thing from Another World and a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 remake, simply called The Thing. Written by Eric Heisserer (no stranger to horror, as he also wrote the screenplay for the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street as well as Final Destination 5) and directed by newcomer Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., the film is visually consistent with Carpenter’s vision but is also very reminiscent of the Alien trilogy with its long, drawn out attempts to heighten suspense. The film moves at a decent pace, but there’s nothing in it that hasn’t been seen before. The storyline is predictable, a bad trait for a story that is driven by the fear of the unknown.
There are places in the film where it succeeds at building tension. For example, in one scene where Kate figures out a method to detect who is human and who is not, she goes from person to person, dividing the room into two camps, humans and aliens. It’s a great moment, but there’s no punch at the end of the threat. That’s how the whole film rolls along: all bark but no bite.
The film does get a huge gold star for continuity – the closing credits are interspersed with a scene that sets up the first scene from the 1982 film (even including the Ennio Morricone score), answering all questions that still may linger as to whether or not it’s a prequel.
The effects team, headed up by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. (both of whom make up Amalgamated Dynamics, who did the creature effects for the later Alien movies), used a combination of practical creature effects, sprucing them up with some CGI. The monster in its normal state looks like the same insect-like reptilian that is seen in every other alien invader movie, but when it starts morphing into people is where it starts to look interesting. It even gets stuck transforming between two characters for a while, and the effect looks like a classic double rubber-face monster movie. The creature is mostly puppetry and animatronics, but there are some obvious CG moments that, honestly, don’t look as good as the old fashioned stuff. The CG visuals are average at best, but the rubber-and-wire creature effects are really cool, and fairly consistent with the look and feel of the Carpenter version that the filmmakers were trying to emulate.
The setting and situation of The Thing is terrifying. The isolation of the Antarctic research station and the paranoia of not knowing who to trust is a great setup for scares. Unfortunately, there’s not much to scream about in The Thing. It works as an action film, but it’s not scary enough to be considered a horror film. One problem that takes away from the scares is the fact that the creature is shown too much and too soon. There’s nothing scarier than what the viewer can imagine, and once the creature’s form is revealed, it’s not so bad. Once the alien starts its shape-shifting, the death and dismemberment happen right out in the open, where both the characters and the audience can see. The film would be scarier if the only mystery was not simply who is, and who is not, an alien.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
- Producer(s): Eric Heisserer
- Screenwriter(s): Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Kate Lloyd)Joel Edgerton (Braxton Carter)Ulrich Thomsen (Dr. Sander Halvorson)
- Story: Eric Christian Olsen (Adam Goodman)
- Cast: Adewale Akinnuoye-Adbaje (Jameson)Paul Braunstein (Griggs)Trond Espen Seim (Edvard Wolner) Kim Bubbs (Juliette)Peter BoyleJulian ClarkeJono GriffithMichel Abramowicz
- Editor(s): Sean Haworth
- Cinematographer: Marco Beltrami
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USACanada