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Film Review: The Thing

10/21/2011 08:12AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple

A group of scientists make a trip to Antarctica where they begin to study on a creature they find frozen in the ice. When the ice thaws, to their alarm, they find that the creature is not dead, but very much alive. After devouring its victims, the creature has the ability to mimic its prey -- it uses this skill to turn the crew against one another as they cannot tell who is in fact human and who has been turned into an alien. With no contact to the outside world and no way out the crew is eliminated one by one.

After seeing the movie it’s easy to see why people could get confused on whether this is a remake or a prequel, because it’s sort of both. The writers basically use the exact same premise and a lot of the same ideas as the first movie. At the very end, they also tie it into the first film as well. Despite its efforts The Thing doesn’t even come close to capturing the terror, tone and quality of the original. I wouldn’t go so far to call the film a complete failure -- it did have a few moments that worked for me -- but the film gets lost in the effects and forgets to create any tension or terror.

To be fair I thought the movie was well cast and the acting was solid. I also thought the opening scene was engaging and fun, it showed some promise. I also liked how the group figured out the Thing could not recreate foreign parts, like teeth fillings. This led to one of the better scenes where they checked everyone’s mouths to clear them of being alien. This scene was one of the few scenes that mixed humor and tension well.

The Thing lost its way when the effects begin to be used. The CGI effects were used far too often. The framing of the effects did not help either. First time Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. does a terrible job setting the angles, creating a pace, and setting a tone. The shots fully expose the CGI monster diminishing the threat. Horror films always work best when you show just enough to let the audience’s mind create something far worse than what you can show. Showing a giant computer generated fake looking creation for a majority of the film almost makes the film feel like a comedy. The filmmakers also introduce the creature’s spacecraft which ultimately was a huge mistake. The spaceship design was completely wrong for this type of film and this type of creature.  In fact the design was so unimaginative that it looked borrowed from several uninspiring low budget alien movies. The spaceship alone brought the quality of the film tumbling down.

Most importantly the film fails to set up any real relationships between the human characters. Outside of the opening scene the human characters come across rather cold and devoid of much personality. The original film’s strength is based on the quality of the characters in the film, not the creature effects.

On its own merits the new film is an average horror/creature film by today’s standards. Unfortunately for this movie when it is compared to the original it pales in comparison. Those who are unfamiliar with the original movie might find some fun in the new movie, especially if they are fans of the creature genre of horror movies. But if you are a fan of the original Thing, then you are better off avoiding this movie.

Films like The Thing – The Thing, The Descent and Pitch Black


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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