The Thing – 2011 – review

Horror fans are some of the silliest of fans out there. We fans HATE remakes, but then we obsess over how amazing the ‘70’s and ‘80’s movies were – they weren’t any better or worse than what we have always had, sorry. We talk about wanting new voices and new ideas but rush out to see all the sequels. We say we want respect and visibility while getting angry that there are mainstream horror films that are successful. We want to be the cool kids that like the obscure stuff but get mad when those films get noticed.

Ooof!

All of this brings us to the horror prequel THE THING, which had the unfortunate honor of trying to tackle the continuation to a story that is just shy of a perfect horror story.

None of that is to make it sound as if I think this is a great film, but it is to set the table that this is yet another film that fans have decided is an abomination and irredeemable.

Hold on sparky and take a breath.

         The first clever thing here is that instead trying to sequelize the original – especially since the comics sequel is pretty fun – it tackles the initial incident. What we get is the discover of ‘the thing’ and what lead to the chaos and horror at the Norwegian camp that is found in Carpenter’s classic. We get them finding the ship, finding the creature, and the terror that stems from the beast getting free. It’s pretty clever to be honest, even if we do know how it’s all going to end.

This is a very well-made film. It has a similar look and feel to the original, the music works well, and overall, the writing is pretty solid. We even get a motley crew of very good actors filling out the roles. The fact is that this looks like it was a film that was made by people that respected the original and wanted to honor it. I have to be honest, I liked it when I first saw it and still like it quite a bit. It’s creepy, gross, scary, and does some really neat things. Heck, it’s just fun to see more iterations of the ‘thing’.

But…

         Let’s be real honest here, the big reason fans hate this film is because the practical effects work was largely replaced by digital work. It doesn’t matter if the movie is good or bad, the fact that they replaced the practical work with digital rubs fans the wrong way, especially on a film that is so revered for its practical work. The thing is that the designs are great here, and some of the creatures are creepy as heck but there’s no denying that it doesn’t all hold up. There’s fire shots that look super fake, and some of the transformations are clearly digital. While it doesn’t ruin the film for me, it does become problematic when you consider that work had been done that they scrapped. It’s hard to know who pulled that trigger but odds are it was a mistake.

It’s not the first though.

This is a fun movie, and while not nearly as good as the Carpenter remake, is a worthy follow-up that doesn’t sully the original. That’s part of the issue here though, it treads so carefully that once you reach the middle of the film it becomes VERY familiar. There are nearly identical beats, and scares, and at times the film feels too much like a loving homage and not a film of its own. Things do ramp up and give us a crazy finale, but it doesn’t feel as impactful as its brother, and again, gives us a little too much of the same.

There are weird things here too like – man, call the movie The Thing From Another World. People aren’t stupid, you can still link it to the other film but if you’re gonna crib a name, crib the name of the story and original film. Old school, baby.

There’s also some weirdness when the film starts where I STILL can’t figure what quite happened to the first characters we meet because I have no idea how they escaped the scenario that led to them finding the ship and creature.

         This isn’t a perfect film at all, but to pretend that it’s worse than a litany of other films, especially latter day add on films, is clownish. Again, this ain’t perfect, and I for sure got confused on who was whom more than once, but it’s an earnest love letter to a legit horror classic and really, the tie in to the other film is fantastically set up. There is something dangerous, and isolating, and depressing about Carpenter’s film, no doubt, but for a film that we didn’t need, this is a good film and deserves better than it’s been treated over the years.

Look, don’t like it.

WOO!

Good for you.

Me, I dig it, and feel like it’s a great way to warm up to the real deal.

3.5  out of 5

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