Saturday, 8 October 2011


Universal Pictures
Now Showing

If, like me, you've never seen John Carpenter's 1982 original The Thing, or the Howard Hawkes produced 1951 film, The Thing From Another World, nor read John W. Campbell Jr.'s original short story, Who Goes There?, which spawned every "thing", then chances are you'll have a good time with this prequel to the 1982 film.

This The Thing, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, is a suitably suspenseful if not entirely scary horror film, set in Antarctica where a group of Norwegian scientists stumble upon possibly the greatest discovery of all time: an alien spacecraft which appears to have crashed thousands of years ago.

American biologist, Kate Loyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is recruited by Dr Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) to help extract the alien biological entity which piloted the craft, but once it's brought back to base and thaws out, starts picking off the inhabitants (which includes a couple of American chopper pilots, played Joel Edgerton and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) one by one.

But not just by ripping out their spleens, oh no. The Thing prefers to absorb its prey, hiding within their skin and masquerading as the deceased; it's greatest weapon is the fear and suspicion it creates. That and its giant vagina-like jaws.

There's an Alien like vibe to these proceedings but van Heijningen Jr's film never reaches the cinematic heights of Ridley Scott's 1979 classic. Similarly, the film also boasts a strong female lead in Winstead. Kate Lloyd may not be as kick ass as Sigourney Weaver's Ripley but she seems like a good person to have around in a crisis. A scientist who's more practical than most people are in situations like this, Kate's able to keep her head when those around her are, quite literally, losing theirs. She's also pretty handy with a flame thrower.

Of course, I'm now tempted to go back and watch Carpenter's The Thing which, I understand, begins at the very point this prequel ends. But even without seeing that film, I got a buzz from the closing credits of The Thing 2011, which recreates the opening moments of the 1982 film involving a helicopter, a gun and a dog.

Fans may not be overly impressed, and I can understand and appreciate that position, but for the uninitiated and the less hardcore, this The Thing may prove to be your thing.


  1. You haven't seen Carpenter's The Thing? You should get on that. While this one had it's moments, the '82 version is far better. In my all time Top 30!

  2. Trust me, my list of 'haven't seens' will shock and appal you ;) Very keen to see Carpenter's film now; will have to see if JB have it cheap as I'm not a member of a DVD shop.

  3. I agree with Andy. Except John Carpenter's The Thing is in my top 5. Carpenter's pacing is flawless, and he better manages the on screen environment so you are immersed into it, to make it easy to follow what is going on.
    I was impressed with both the CGI and physical SPFX, but it didn't make up for the lack of ideas.
    Alien/s was referenced one too many times for my liking.
    Winstead is one to watch.
    Not a bad flick, just nowhere near as good as The Thing from 1982.

  4. i think every over-praises the '82 remake, which i love and is also one of my favourites

    '82 had pacing, immense sense of dread and true moments of horror. as for ideas, there wasn't many. it was good because it was simple. all it's ideas were in the SPFX, which Carpenter gave Rob Bottin absolute control.

    '11 wasn't as skillful in creating fear or dread, repeated some ideas and situations from 82, and influenced by Aliens and From Beyond, but the 'inorganic material' idea was quite clever.

    the near-flawless way it ties in to the 82 was great (design, score and even the axe in the wall). if anything, '11 version was a little too much in love with the 82 version and held it back from developing it's own identity.

    it wasn't a great film but i thought it was really good. unfortunately you can't ever please fanboys. so when everybody calms down i think this film will be better appreciated... watched late at night... at home alone... on tv... much like the box office and critical flop 82 version was

  5. Thanks for the comments, Tucker. Always appreciate a new reader at The LennoX Files.

    Having only just seen Carpenter's film this weekend (for shame), I was struck by how slavishly the prequel attempts to recreate it while also impressed by the attention to detail in having elements - the Norwegian camp, the axe, the room with the ice block - match up as close as possible.

    I can also imagine that watching The Thing in 1982 was a far scarier experience than watching it today. And I wonder if that ending, which is quite impressive, would have been allowed by a studio/audience which demands "closure".

    One wonders that if the prequel is a box office success (and that's not looking likely), will they make a sequel to the Carpenter film? They certainly wouldn't dare to remake it, would they?