Horror icon, John Carpenter, brought us The Thing in 1982. It was one of the first horror movies I watched as a kid where I had my mind blown over what could be done with special FX makeup! It was absolutely amazing to watch a man's head fall off his shoulders, sprout spider legs and eyes and then crawl away. If you never saw the original and that sentence makes you think the exact opposite of "amazing," then this prequel to the 29-year-old original will do nothing for you because what made the original so amazing was the prequel's undoing.
I love prequels. I think it's really fun to watch what happened before the movie you already love. In the original they talk about the camp that discovers the alien that can shape-shift into any other living thing but you never see it. That camp is what this film is all about but it's the exact same story. There is almost no difference between the two, even in the choice of casting Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Animal Kingdom) as the hero because when dude sports a beard he looks EXACTLY like Kurt Russell, who was the hero in the original. I did like that the true star of the film was a woman, who was played by the gorgeous Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Death Proof). It makes me think of Ripley in the Alien franchise although she's far from the tough-as-nails that Sigourney Weaver trademarked!
I love the aspect of how isolating this film is. It takes place in Antarctica which is so cold and lonely that it might as well be space. Not only that, but I love the spookiness of untrust, where the killer could be lurking inside the skin of any one of the main characters. It makes it a very unique horror film that also comes with the joy of seeing great monster makeup and FX. Sadly, I saw ALL of that in the original and this one doesn't break any new ground.
It's almost like new director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. (no, my cat didn't walk across my keyboard...that's his name) assumed that no one saw the first one and could get away with just remaking it. I'm not against remakes either. If they're done well, I think they can potentially be better than the original. But I think prequels are way better and I especially don't appreciate it when prequels don't want to call themselves remakes, which is exactly what The Thing did.
Is it scary? Not really. Is it cool? At times. They disapointed me at times by using CGI to create some of the monster FX the original accomplished with old school make-up AND still looked faker than it did in 1982, but I give the studio credit in simply trying to make a monster movie again; something that sadly seems to have vanished from the lanscape. But in a movie about a killer alien that can carbon copy itself into anything, I wish The Thing didn't carbon copy itself into the 1982 original.
The Thing (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: C+