Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Thing (2011)

If I see an alien frozen in ice, I’m gonna leave that damn ice alone.

This prequel tells the story of a team of Norwegian scientists who find an alien ship frozen in Antarctica. When the organism inside awakens, blood flows across the frozen landscape. Leading the group is pilot Carter (Joel Edgerton), who allies with paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a desperate attempt to rally the paranoid workers to combat the deadly threat.

When I first heard rumors about a prequel to the John Carpenter horror classic, ‘The Thing‘, I thought that this would once again just be another cash-grab for the Halloween audience of October. However, it didn’t play out as bad as I would have expected, but I still missed the bearded Kurt Russell.

Dutch director Matthijs van Heijninger Jr. actually does a surprisingly good job here recreating the tone and feel that Carpenter explored very well in his classic. There were times when I felt the paranoia of not knowing who was infected and who was not and the whole film just keeps on building little tiny bits of suspense. It isn’t the kind of suspense where I was practically on the edge of my seat the whole entire dang time, it still had enough of it to where I actually felt it.

Also, having any film in an Antarctic setting is just plain and simply freaky. The only time I can think of where it actually didn’t work was that piece of crap Whiteout, but other than that, placing your film in a place where it’s surrounded by snow, snow, and more snow just cooks up the perfect recipe for a good horror film.

The problem that I knew that I was going to have with this film beforehand, was the fact that everything that happened in this film, was something I already saw in the Carpenter film. The whole idea of who was or who wasn’t taken over by an alien, the reason how and why they take over the body, and the way they find out who is real and who isn’t, are all ideas from the first that seemed so original and novel then, but instead now just feel like recycled material over-and-over again. On it’s own, the film doesn’t really have much of a leg to stand on and it was kind of a drag at times too.

The scares also sort of work here but too many times it just feels like those same old “boo” scares that we get in so many horror films today, whereas the Carpenter version never did that. You know the scares, everything gets all quiet with little sounds and no score, until suddenly something incredibly crazy and loud happens and that’s the scare-factor right there. It also didn’t help that the volume in my theater was up to about 100 so every time these damn aliens yelled or screamed, I went deaf for about 5 minutes.

If you couldn’t already tell by the trailer in the beginning, there is a lot of action that is actually pretty fun to watch even if it is a bit the same things we have already seen and done better. Instead of also focusing on actual costumes, make-up, and designs for the scary “infected” this film uses a lot of CG creatures that actually look pretty detailed as well as disgusting. It didn’t really stun me the way the Carpenter version did but I have to say that when I saw these creatures, I was pretty disgusted in a good way.

When you have a cast for a horror film, you know not to really expect much, and as is the case with this one as well. Joel Edgerton is the obvious choice to replace the hard-assed Kurt Russell hero role from the Carpenter film, but he does an alright job with what he’s given as Carter even though his role and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje‘s are both very minimal considering that they are gone from the screen for a long period of time. Why though, is something I cannot say. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is alright as Kate Lloyd, even though I think her performance just mainly consisted of her being scared or determined. There are also plenty of other Norwegian dudes playing Norwegians which was kind of a problem considering the fact that we can’t really tell each of them apart, and the fact is that there is just too many characters to begin with in the first place.

Probably my favorite part of the film was the credits and that’s not me being an ass either, the credits are pretty cool. Considering how lame and cheesy the ending is (it takes place in an alien spaceship?) when the credits came up it sent chills down my spine because as soon as I heard the Carpenter score, I just knew what I was getting. I was expecting it to lead me to the opening of Carpenter’s film but the way they did it, I thought was pretty cool and a nice twist on the whole film in general.

Consensus: Though not as bad as I imagined at first, The Thing is an unnecessary prequel that has some chills and thrills, but still doesn’t have the originality, creepiness, and overall effect on you as Carpenter’s version might have.



  1. This is the second average review of this film. I really wanted this to be good. I loved the originals.

    Ah well the remake doom strikes again…

    OH Yea, it is a PREQUEL….HAHAH

  2. I too had mixed feelings when I heard about this movie. On the one hand I was excited to finally learn what happened at the Norwegian camp from my beloved Carpenter flick. On the other hand, I was worried that it would be the typical 80’s remake doo-doo which Hollywood has been regurgitating lately.

    While I enjoyed the film, and recommend it, I agree that the best word to describe it is ‘unnecessary”.

    course, what do I know?

    • I didn’t really need this, unless Carpenter did it himself. He would have brought so much imagination but this one here just seems like that same formula, used once again. Thanks!

  3. Dan you were much kinder to this stinker of a picture than we were. Are you going soft? 🙂 It’s hard for a movie to be so bad that it makes you think you should have gone with the mob of 12 year-olds at the theater to see Footloose.

    • Haha woahh man! I’m not getting soft! I promise! I didn’t want to see Footloose for some odd reason and since it’s scary season, I thought that this would be such a good pick. Thanks!

  4. While I don’t agree that it built suspense very well, I do agree with the rest of your review. My Theater’s volume was up way too high as well….maybe it’s a problem with the film source, and not the theatre?

  5. Eh, I saw this over the weekend. It was horrible. I have to disagree that it built any kind of suspense whatsoever. One of the big reasons for that was the music. It was shitty, generic orchestral stuff that didn’t make me feel anything at all. It certainly didn’t add to any kind of atmosphere.

    It didn’t recreate any semblance of the tone or feel of Carpenter’s, either. A whole lotta CG…that you can tell is CG…on top of it being the same damn story we’ve already seen before made it a giant pile of crap.

    The ending was awful, what with the giant Tetris board and monster stalkings. They totally missed the point when the movie turned into a story about people running away from the giant, gross thing trying to eat you.

    I will agree that there are a lot of characters, and sometimes it can be difficult to figure out who did what, when, etc., but Carpenter had to work with the same issues, and he did it much, much, much better. I would recommend everyone avoid this like the plague.

    • Yeah I agree with what you’re saying and I have to agree that this is probably not the best film to see right now, but then again, it’s not terrible. Thanks!

  6. This was a pretty solid review. This prequel was way more fun to watch than it should have been considering how many missteps were made.

    Early on you mentioned Antarctica as a pretty freaky setting for a film, and I agree. In fact, I think that one of the missteps the movie made was introducing the viewers to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character while stateside. It took away from the claustrophobic atmosphere by visually acknowledging that a safer world outside of the Antarctic existed. Explaining who she was and why she was there while in a helicopter en route to the camp would not only have eliminated the existence of a safe place but would have “rhymed” with Carpenter’s version.

    But, perhaps this is just the fanboy in me wishing to rant.

    By the way, I found an interview with the screenwriter you might find interesting:

  7. I really appreciated how this move dovetailed into the original, even down to the axe in the (when carter kills the hand alien). I agree with you that it was just a re-hash of the original with a prequel twist.

  8. Hey dan, I was wondering something. I am yet to see the movie (it is yet to release in my country), but the promos and marketing seem to convince that this movie has a plot similar to AVP : Requiem. Antartica, team of scientists, discovery, female lead who is the eventual survivor, big bad corporation, mysterious alien. What are your thoughts?

  9. Nice review Dan. You seemed to like the film a bit more than I did though. I think this was basically just a repeat of the Carpenter version. So many similarities – though none done as well as when Carpenter did them. I also think they showed too much of the actual alien. Carpenter only gave us peeks (for the most part) and that is scarier. I also wonder what would make the Kate character (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who was great as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) do some of the stupid things she does – like turning her back on someone when she knows damn well anyone could be the creature. Oh yeah, that is typical horror movie behaviour – another thing Carpenter’s version did not need to rely on. Give me the Carpenter version, or even the original 1951 Hawks-Nyby version, anytime.

  10. I think it’s worth watching but I agree with you, it’s not as good as the original, which I just watched today. I really liked the character interaction in the original more, Kurt Russell and Keith David. The prequel didn’t really have any performances that stuck out at me.

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