In 1982 John Carpenter brought us the Lovecraftian story of fear and isolation: The Thing. It was a story that followed a group of Americans stationed in Antarctica and their unfortunate run in with a terrifying beast from beyond the stars. Recently a new version came out in theaters and by all accounts it looked to be a remake, and you know what that usually means:
I am happy to report that it was not a remake, it was something far better: a prequel. Those of you who have seen the original will remember the opening sequence in which a helicopter chases a dog through the snow while shooting at it. The copter chases the dog to the American’s camp where the shooter and pilot yell at the Americans in Norwegian as they keep trying to kill the dog. No one understands them and after the shooter hits one of the Americans while trying to shoot the dog they end up getting killed in self defense. Eventually it is discovered that the dog is The Thing, which in turn is an alien being able to perfectly copy its prey. The movie becomes a spine chilling tale of fear and distrust as it is established that some of the people are Things yet no one can tell who…
The prequel follows the original finding of The Thing by the Norwegian camp. The movie is set in 1982 and does its best to recreate the feel of the original and for the most part it works. Costuming and props and sets look good, and because of that the improved picture quality can be overlooked. The sound and music is also well done, not as good as the original but then again this one isn’t a John Carpenter joint. It’s not all roses though, for in keeping with new horror movie fashion there are many good suspense filled moments but with them came a lot of — BAM! LOUD NOISES TO SCARE YOU!
I thought the acting was very good, when the shit started to hit the fan I really felt the fear and disbelief of those poor Norwegians. Additionally the pacing was good and they even (SPOILER ALERT) kept it original with their impromptu “who’s a thing” test. If I had to pick one thing about the movie that falls short you damn well know what it’s going to be…special effects. The original was filmed in 1982 when CGI was virtually unheard of and the medium of the day was plaster and puppetry, both of which could be used very effectively by skilled FX artists.
Personally I’ve always been a fan of puppetry in horror movies. When used effectively puppetry can bring a very unearthly yet tangibly real look to something like The Thing. Every shot of that terrifying creature from the original movie was just down right scary:
CGI on the other hand treads a very fine line between believably real and fake as hell. If used improperly or cheaply it can take away all of the realism of the shot:
The CGI used after the first shot of the Thing was progressively better and for the most part the CGI was good. The shots that were not good WILL NOT hold up well over time, unlike the puppetry from 1982 that still looks creepy as hell today.
That being said the movie was really good. Maybe I was really happy that it wasn’t a remake and overly excited at all the call backs to the original, but I really do think that even as a standalone movie it’s well made, adequately scary and quite enjoyable.