I’ve always been the first one to cry foul at the prospect of yet another re-imagining/re-boot/re-beating-of-a-dead-horse. This time, though, I have to say that “The Thing” is just as good as the original.
“The Thing” has been in cinema since back in 1951 when it was called “The Thing from Outer Space.” I have admittedly not seen that particular “original,” but the version that just came out more closely resembles the 1982 “The Thing,"anyway.
For those of you who have seen the 1982 John Carpenter film (and you all should, it’s even on Netflix Instant), this new version will please you. While it is a prequel, it shares many of the same themes and styles with the 1982 version.
At times, those parallels can seem a bit forced, but more on that later. Needless to say, they do not detract from the overall experience.
“The Thing” is set in Antarctica, where a group of scientist find “some-thing” in the ice. All I can tell you without giving anything away is that it’s alive, and it kills people. The rest of the plot is laden with suspense and must truly be experienced to be understood fully.
One of the things that made the 1982 “Thing” so great was the cast's ability to sell the suspense. The 2011 version’s cast is pitch perfect for the same reason. Mary Elizabeth Winstead proves she can do more than soap operas as the stand-in for Kurt Russel. Ulrich Thomsen, who just recently made the jump to American cinema, does a great job of making the audience want him to die next.
The rest of the cast is made of relative unknowns who do exactly the opposite of what Thomsen does. It’s rare that you see a horror movie where you don’t want the extraneous characters to die.
Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s direction is superb, and may even be on the level of John Carpenter given a little more experience. A big part of the way “The Thing” is able to pull you in is the writing talent of sci-fi giant Ronald D. Moore.
For a movie that relies so heavily on special effects, it never rests on them like a crutch. There is still a lot of work done with the more “traditional” tools of horror. The 1982 “Thing” was touted for its effects at the time, but this time around the story is able to take the front seat.
That being said, the effects in this movie are amazing (and gory). Do not see this film if you have a weak stomach. I don’t know how the animators managed to make everything look so real, but they should probably be under surveillance just to be sure.
If you’re looking for a good horror flick for Halloween that’s smarter than “Paranormal Activity 3,” look no further. As I said many times before, the 1982 version is also quite good. In fact, the only thing that could have made this version of “The Thing” better is more Kurt Russel.