What I Watched Last Night: The Thing (2011)

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen


 Don’t ask her for a light.

Not only does The Thing take place in the harsh wastelands of the Antarctic, the opening title transcript stipulates that it’s winter to boot. Point being, it’s cold, and you would do well to remember it.  Though misguidedly advertised as a remake of John Carpenter’s horror masterclass, debut director M.V.Haijningen Jr’s film is actually a precursor to the fateful goings on of Arctic Outpost #31. Though marginally better than receiving the bastardised remake treatment endured by horrors such The Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (to name but two of MANY) ,a prequel was still wholly unnecessary. By exploring the origins of the iconic morphing monster, the filmmakers have shattered the mystique, turning the otherworldly into the mundane.  Can you imagine how ruinous it would be if George Lucas decided to make a film about Darth Vader growing up a as a pre-pubescent force-ling? Nobody in their right mind woul- oh, never mind.


Next level ice fishing: Kill them with with your eyes.

Shot in the same sweeping style as the Carpenter classic, the opening shots throw you right into the immense and indomitable North Pole snow scape, but mostly this just reminds you that you probably should have re-watched the original. The Thing tracks the breakout of the monster at an isolated Norwegian facility, the baffling remains of which were discovered by Kurt Russell’s McCready. Within minutes, the perky palaeontologists have drilled through the ice and awakened the creature, opening up the extra-terrestrial equivalent of Pandora ’s Box. The ‘big reveal’ is amazingly lacklustre, especially so when compared to the caustically creative animatronics and prosthetics used to bring the thing from 1982’s The Thing to life. An over-reliance on CGI makes the many-limbed mutant look as fake as can be and it actually bears closest resemblance to ‘The Flood’ from Halo. Rather than fear, mirth is all you feel as the victims wriggle their bodies out of sync with the slimy green- screen tentacles that are supposedly messing with their insides.


There’s SomeTHING About Mary

To add to the woes of Carpenter fans, the imbecilic scientists make ridiculous decisions and are unsympathetic to the last (wo)man. Instead of blood tests they peer down one another’s throats to check for tooth fillings, and when the creature bursts out of the roof with ease they unanimously decide that the best course of action is to chase after it into the night, unequipped and unprepared. Fools, it’s as cold as an Arctic Winter out there! (Get it? It actually IS an Arctic Winter.)


Next Level Palaeontology: Dissect it with your eyes.

Bodacious beards are about the only thing the unremarkable cast bring to the table, but face fuzz is no substitute for acting talent. Mary Elizabeth Winstead pretends to be Ripley by fumbling about with a flame thrower and the only cast member worth mentioning is Joel Edgerton as the rugged Sam Carter – he certainly has a bit of the Russell about him. Ennio Morricone’s cavorting hair raiser of a score is replaced here with a generic string n’ synth job which follows a strict pattern: slow, brooding, Dum Dum Dum!, violins screeching!, slow, brooding, repeat.

To rationalise 2011’s The Thing in alcohol terms, if Carpenter and Kurt’s movie is a large J+B scotch on the rocks, then this is a bottle of petrol station discounted mint-mocha flavoured Malibu.


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