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The Thing (2011)
Reviewed by Rick Klaw, © 2011

Format: Movie
By:   Matthijs van Heijningen Jr (Director)
Genre:   Horror
Review Date:   October 13, 2011
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   3/10 (What Is This?)

The third movie inspired John W. Campbell Jr.'s classic 1938 novella “Who Goes There?,” The Thing serves as a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name. First time feature film director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. mangles the concept with his tepid view that fails not only in comparison to its predecessors but even as a monster schlockfest. (Here's the movie's official site).

Beginning three days before the events of the John Carpenter film, scientist Sander Halversen (Ulrich Thomsen) and his assistant Adam Goodman (Eric Christian Olsen) recruit paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) for their Norwegian scientific team stationed in Antarctica. Prior to her arrival, the crew stumbled across a crashed extraterrestrial spaceship buried beneath the ice, discovering the frozen corpse of an alien. After excavating the creature and transporting it to their base, an experiment frees the thing from its frozen prison. The creature displays an uncanny ability to mimic any life form and proceeds to imitate the team members. Kate and the crew's pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), attempt to keep it from killing them all, while stopping the alien from reaching civilization.

Falling on the wrong side of the thin line between tense and tedious, van Heijningen's slow paced story relies far too much on the mediocre creature effects for frights rather than the inherent creepiness of the unknown, possibly infected humans.

The unnecessary scientific conclusions, reached with scant evidence, and the inconsistent, oft illogical alien motivations/ actions combined with the poorly conceived dialogue further erode any paranoid elements. All this obfuscates the few clever moments and the magnificent landscape.

This version lacks the social gravitas of the previous incarnations. The original, The Thing From Another World (1951), shot during the height of the Red Scare, ushered in the 1950s monster movie craze by making people wonder if their unassuming neighbor really was a Communist. The lauded 1982 Carpenter movie, also called The Thing, appeared amid the initial paranoia surrounding HIV/AIDS. Carpenter masterfully exploited those fears by centering his film around blood.

The current vapid vision promises nothing but cheap gross outs and doomed attempts at shock.

Include the ludicrous, anti-climatic ending and the tacked on epilogue, a blatant attempt to tie in with the Carpenter film, and ultimately The Thing only manages to deliver a disappointing waste of time.


RevSF Editor-at-large Rick Klaw misses mainstream horror movies that offer some subtext. Experience more of his commentary at The Geek Curmudgeon or on Twitter.

 
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