WRETCHED REVIEWS: THE THING (2011)

THE THING

Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Written by Eric Heisserer

Universal Studios

 Like you I went into The Thing with modest expectations and outsized apprehension. After all, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a modern horror classic, and the idea of a retro-engineered prequel seemed unwise at best, opportunistic at worst.

But having read interviews with Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. – and having spoken to him myself – it became obvious that he was a fan of Carpenter’s film so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. And don’t forget that Carpenter’s Thing was itself a remake of a smartly-written sci-fi classic, 1951’s The Thing from Another World. Plus I was always curious about what happened to those crazy Swedes… sorry, Norwegians mentioned in Carpenter’s film.

Van Heijningen wastes little time getting to the horror and paranoia, opening with the discovery of a flying saucer – and its pilot – embedded in the Antarctic permafrost by a group of Norwegian researchers. To help them uncover the frozen creature (and to make sure everyone speaks English most of the time), Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen: Season of the Witch) calls in American palaeontologist Kate Lloyd (Winstead). Soon enough, of course, the beast awakens from its sleep and proceeds to invade the camp’s inhabitants, and if you’ve seen Carpenter’s film then you have some idea about what to expect, including in what position the bodies will be found.

So does it work? Mostly, yes. Van Heijningen’s film necessarily makes concessions to modern horror techniques – jump scares, CGI – but its evil little heart is in the right place. As much as Carpenter fans will want to dismiss this Thing as a cash grab, they will – if they actually pony up to see it instead of merely spreading hate online without having done so – doubtless be impressed by not only the respect being paid to Carpenter’s vision but by the imagination of the story and the sheer visual insanity on display.

And let it be said that the things in this Thing are absolutely hellish. While they perhaps do not surpass the practical creatures created by genius makeup artist Rob Bottin, they certainly on occasion match them in terms of macabre beauty. And while van Heijningen necessarily had to use digital effects – it’s 2011, people, and this is a multi-million dollar production – they are applied to actual practical puppets and prosthetics, creating bizarre and nightmarish images which made me lean forward in my seat to more fully appreciate their lovely grotesquery.

And no matter your criticisms, van Heijningen’s Thing will no doubt invade the DNA of a younger generation of horror fans, turning them on to Carpenter’s work. The fact that the first-time filmmaker has made a respectful movie that stands on its own two tentacles is good enough for me.

Rating: 3.5/5

One Response to “WRETCHED REVIEWS: THE THING (2011)”

  1. […] WRETCHED REVIEWS: THE THING (2011) Posted: 14 octubre, 2011 by victor carlos villegas lozano in Sin categoría 0 THE THING Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Written by Eric Heisserer Universal Studios  Like you I went into The Thing with modest expectations and outsized apprehension. After all, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a modern horror classic, and the idea of a retro-engineered prequel seemed unwise at best, opportunistic at worst. But having read interviews with Dutch dire … Read More […]

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