Matt Adcock’s film review: The Thing

It’s not human. Yet…

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 6th December 2011, 4:35 am

Actually, it’s not even close.

If you remember the horror classic 1982 John Carpenter version of The Thing with any fondness then you might want to look away now.

This new version, which portrays itself as a prequel, tramples all over the existing good work and replaces that gut-wrenching master class in tension with cheap shocks and lots of running around being chased by an angry alien .

Just as we did back in ’82, we join an ill-fated team of scientists at an Antarctic exploration site who find a crashed spacecraft and unwisely take one of the dead alien life forms back to their base.

Turns out the alien isn’t dead and can take the form of other beings – cue lots of messy deaths and supposed tension as those remaining try to work out who is still human and who has been ‘replaced’.

Here’s a quick test you can do to see if you’ve been taken over by The Thing. Ask yourself this: Is your name Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)? If so you’re fine. If not, chances are you’re a nasty toothy space beastie just pretending to be human.

I loved the Carpenter version of The Thing but was left really cold by this addition to the franchise.

The biting psychological tension of the ’82 film is watered down in favour of stupid B movie gross out ‘shocks’ and monstrous but ultimately unimpressive special effects.

Winstead looks good and does a respectable job in the lead role of the flame-thrower happy heroine who comes across as a Ripley-lite.

She’s not the sort of girl you want to be friends with, though, as she dispassionately fries anyone she thinks might be infected without ever looking too bothered by it.

What also hinders the audience buying in to the admitted potentially terrifying situation of being trapped in a remote desolate Antarctic location with a killer alien is the fact that nearly all the rest of the cast are interchangeable bearded Norwegians.

So when Olaf, Lars or Henrick gets eaten and mutated it’s hard to care – which one was that again?

Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. tries to tie events into the more illustrious film with which this hokum unfairly shares a name, film but it feels very clunky and nothing here is very reverential to the superior existing material.

This is one Thing you don’t need in your life.