Today: February 22, 2024

The Thing DVD

It’s been 30 years since John Carpenter’s The Thing was released in cinemas

It’s been 30 years since John
Carpenter’s The Thing was released in cinemas
and still to this day it is considered one of the single most terrifying
monster movie ever released. There are two reasons for this: First, the
premise, which sees a shape-shifting alien attack and imitate its human prey,
plays upon fears of paranoia and loss of identity which prove psychologically
unsettling, and secondly, it’s UTTERLY HORRIFYING. Flailing, thrashing
tentacles, deformed body parts…basically, it’s the very embodiment of Satan’s
nightmares, and all achieved with practical effects rather than soulless CGI.

This
new reboot, which acts in every way like an exact remake, hitting upon all the
same beats and tones as the original, is disguised as a technical prequel,
telling events that tie in brilliantly and lead right up to those of John
Carpenter’s classic. And director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr pays such
painstaking attention in recreating the exact look and feel of the film’s predecessor,
the result is a movie that, while not offering up much in the way of
originality, acts as a perfect companion piece. It is essentially a
doppelgänger, mimicking the original in much the same way as its alien monster
copies its victims.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead heads a cast of rough-edged Americans and Nordic
no-names in a story that quickly becomes just a series of bloody kills. A neat
conceit about how the alien shapeshifter can’t reproduce inorganic material
(like tooth fillings) helps to establish some rules among the paranoid chaos
that ensues, but this new version leans more towards flashy gore-soaked deaths
than the tension-fuelled atmos-fear of the first film.

And
unfortunately for fans, there is an overall reliance on CGI that vastly softens
the impact of each scare. It’s almost a desecration of everything that The
Thing is known for: if you’re going to get one thing right, make it the deeply
unsettling and unnatural practical props and models. Here’s a hint, Hollywood:
we can all still tell when something is just made out of pixels.

Having
said that, the filmmakers clearly have fun with thinking up new disturbing
sights to scare the bejesus out of its audience. Torsos that become giant
cavernous jaws, arms that detach and crawl on muscle tendons, faces contorted
in agony folded into each other…this is stuff that would make Francis Bacon
crawl into a corner and rock back and forth until it all goes away.

Overall
there are some things that may bug Thing purists: Joel Edgerton‘s helicopter
pilot is trying too hard to be Kurt Russell‘s original hero, and a
climactic scene gives an unnecessary (and confusing) insight into an alien
predator that works best as a complete mystery. And yet this is still the best
prequel-cum-remake of The Thing that anybody could have asked for. It’s not a
patch on John Carpenter’s first go round, but in 30 years nothing else has been
either.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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