The Thing That Came Before The Thing
By Jay Fralick on October 18, 2011
October means a few things to me: Less light and time to intentionally seek out the sun when it is out in an attempt to stave off those winter blahs; A celebration of all things pumpkin, including my favorite pumpkin ales; Horror films, my favorite genre; and Fall break from classes and a chance to review a new release.
The film I chose to see is the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, titled… The Thing. This The Thing tells the events that lead to John Carpenter’s The Thing (I considered calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2, but thought better of it), going into the details of the events at the Norwegian station.
Near the beginning of the film, Dr. Halvorson, played by Ulrich Thomsen, along with assistant Adam Goodman, played by Eric Christian Olsen, recruit paleontologist Kate Lloyd, played by the lovely Mary Elizabeth (it’s hard not to sing “Ramona”) Winstead to accompany his crew to Antarctica for what promises to be one of the biggest finds in recent history. Upon arrival, Lloyd is immediately taken to the site and shown what appear to be a crashed alien spacecraft and a possible pilot for said craft, frozen beneath the ice.
When Dr. Halvorson orders the extraction of a tissue sample against the protests of Lloyd, things don’t go as expected, unless you know that the alien is The Thing and you know what The Thing does, in which case it may be somewhat expected. This Thing relies more on brute force than Carpenter’s version, which preferred to remain hidden. If you watch both films close in time to each other, you will notice the contrast in effects, since this version is heavy on CGI.
Winstead is great in her role as a paleontologist thrust into this horrific, cold and dark world where anyone you see might launch a tentacle through your chest. She holds it together even during the most disturbing events. I can’t help but make a comparison to Ripley in the Alien films. First time feature director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. does a good job at making an endless expanse of snow seem claustrophobic and hopeless, though I believe this was done better in the original. Unfortunately, no one else stood out in this one. Joel Edgerton (young Uncle Owen) was okay, but the part could have been filled by anyone.
One thing that I must mention is that great care was taken to make sure that all of the details regarding the Norwegian station from John Carpenter’s The Thing were taken into account. The end of the film dovetails perfectly into the beginning of the 1982 release.
Die-hard fans of practical effects will need to look elsewhere for their fix, but if CG monsters/aliens don’t bother you, you like a fair amount of gore, or you’re just curious about what happened immediately prior to meeting Kurt Russell’s MacReady, check this one out.
How much would I pay to see this one again?
Out of $10, I’d pay $6. It was a good horror release, but I don’t believe it will be as fondly remembered as the original.
Jay Fralick is the co-host of The Wanna Watch a Movie? Podcast
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