John Carpenter’s version of The Thing is a horror classic that has not only stood the test of time, but is considered by many to be one of the best horror movies ever. The desire to return to the 1982 film to attempt and capture a similar atmosphere in a modern motion picture is understandable, but the journey is likely to not only tarnish its reputation but weaken the impact it once had. Despite being held in such high regard, it’s not like The Thing is a huge money maker. The 1982 film didn’t even break $20 million at the domestic box office and didn’t really become a success until it was released on VHS. Fast forward nearly thirty years and a new version of The Thing has covertly made its way into theaters or at least that’s what it would like to lead you to believe.
The Thing has a pretty decent opening. What’s a modern day R-rated horror movie without a really terrible raunchy joke to break the ice (pun intended) minutes before everything hits the fan? The scenery is kind of breathtaking, as well. The roaming shot that opens the film where we see many of the snow caps in “Antarctica” along with most of the scenic shots are fairly beautiful. There’s something about vast, snowy landscapes and icy structures that’s mesmerizing.
The special effects are probably the main reason to see The Thing. Many horror fans that have seen the prequel are upset that the film relied so much on CG, but I found them rather extraordinary. There’s a mix of both practical effects and computer generation for a result that is both gnarly and out of this world. It’s not so much that CG is so relevant in films nowadays that turns me off of it it’s the amount of cheap-looking CG that constantly gets used. In regards to living up to Carpenter’s film, The Thing came closest with how the creature looked. That along with how everything happening seemed to explain events in the 1982 version are a drawing factor. The Thing feels like a remake, but the events that unfold explain what happened leading up to the opening shot in Carpenter’s film. The sound effects also at least make the film worth a viewing in the theater. The creature’s sounds alone are pretty intense. The score wasn’t necessarily memorable, but was just subtle enough and just enough to put you on the edge to add a little bit to the film. Lastly, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the most decent part of the cast. She’s no R.J. MacReady, but she has the most developed personality.
Unfortunately The Thing pretty much has everyTHING working against it despite showing quite a bit of potential. It has the blandest dialogue. Everything is so boring and monotone. All of the characters feel one-dimensional, as well; paper thin. Character development is mostly nonexistent. The jump scares feel cheap and it’s so dead set on staying close to Carpenter’s vision that it isn’t able to establish an identity of its own. The “test” in the prequel is beyond weak and the film’s constant absence of logic becomes groan-worthy.
In the 1982 film, Childs (Keith David) says at one point “If I was an imitation, a perfect imitation, how would you know it was really me?” This version of The Thing aspires to be a perfect imitation of Carpenter’s version and it crashes and burns. It barely passes as an imperfect imitation. The way it relies on Carpenter’s film as a crutch hurts it more than anything. However the special effects at least make it worth seeing in the theater. Although disappointing, The Thing is somewhat decent, better than what most review sites are giving it credit for, and moderately entertaining.
Sources: imdb.com, screenrant.com, filmdrift.com