It seems like the only way to get a film made in Hollywood is if it’s either a remake or a sequel. So it only makes sense that, after 30 years Hollywood would remake John Carpenter’s classic horror film “The Thing.” Killing two birds with one stone, we get a prequel and a remake under the same title.
In the original “The Thing” we join a group of American scientists in Antarctica as they study a possible extraterrestrial being found in the ice. About a third of the way into the film the scientists discover the abandoned Norwegian camp where this installment takes place.
In this prequel to “The Thing” we follow Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as she embarks to Antarctica to a frozen camp full of Norwegian men. When the creature breaks out of its icy encasement the scientists find themselves face to face with an alien life form that does not come in peace.
As Kate studies the creature she discovers that it has the ability to take on different forms, including the human form, and that no one in the camp can leave and no one can be trusted.
While the prequel does many things the original didn’t, it lacks some of the subtle nuances that made the original “The Thing” great. One of these instances is the immediate reveal of the monster.
In the original, we do not get to see the creature’s real form until about three-fourths into the movie. This makes the alien far more mysterious and terrifying because we do not know what to look out for.
In the prequel the creature’s true shape is revealed almost immediately. This works surprisingly well. Because the special effects of modern films are obviously more realistic and thus more frightening and we also get to see the thing as it devours humans and when it is between forms we get a real sense of terror from the creature.
Another strength in the prequel is the leading lady, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Known to many as Ramona Flowers (from the 2010 film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”) Winstead isn’t as charming without pink hair but she is the driving human force of the film and proves to be a strong and level-headed female character that is also able to kick some alien ass.
What’s great about this film is the fact that it convincingly mixes horror film with the thriller of a who-dun-it. Throughout the film we are given red herrings as to who the thing could be while also supplied with the good-ole’ classic gory mutilations and explosions of a horror film.
The movie genuinely feels like it has been crafted with love for the original and sticks to the logistics that original film espoused. The end scene is exactly shot-for-shot the same as the first scene in the original as well as the set-up of the Norwegian camp. These subtle nuances of faithfulness to the original make the film feel more like a labor of love than just another money grab.
As a huge fan of the original “The Thing” I hope that this is the end of its remakes and that there isn’t a follow-up next year. Yet at the same time I found this film to stay true to its roots while also allowing modern innovations to be woven in.
Anyone looking for a good Halloween fright-night flick should definitely check out this, as well as the original. The two “The Thing’s” would make for a very scary and smooth-transitioned double feature.