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.