The Thing 2011 ★★½

Although an entirely redundant remake masquerading as a prequel, The Thing, when taken at face value is competent enough. For those few who have yet to experience the delights of Carpenter’s film they may well enjoy this superfluous retread. But for those who remember the ‘82 original then this film may be harder to swallow.

John Carpenter’s film is one of my all time favourite horror films (as this list attests). It is brilliant for many reasons but the three main areas for me are in its characterisation, paranoia and groundbreaking special effects. Coincidentally these are the key areas where the prequel most struggles. I defy anybody to remember more than two of the character’s names this time around. Where Carpenter’s film excelled in delivering compelling and memorable characters this time we get a bunch of bland, nondescript Norwegians and a poor MacReady wannabe. Similarly, the sense of claustrophobic paranoia which was so palpable in the first film is all but absent here. It certainly doesn’t help that the infected are always so easy to spot, but because the characters are so crudely realised it is hard to invest in their plight and the sense of tension is greatly diminished. The Thing is also shown too readily and frequently diluting its impact, which neatly brings me onto my next point: the special effects. The CGI just isn’t convincing, the alien has a plastic-like appearance and it is hard to buy into its contorted and grotesque manifestations. This is all the more galling when some excellent practical effects were created for the film (check YouTube for the test footage) yet it is either buried under CGI embellishments or ditched altogether.

As I said earlier, if you have never seen Carpenter’s film or have no real affiliation for it then you may well enjoy Matthijs van Heijningen’s take on the story. Removing any knowledge of what went before it, the film is a perfectly adequate modern horror movie. It is nicely shot, the characters may be bland but the cast do a good job and it still has the odd enjoyable moment. The problem is few people over the age of 16 will be able to watch it without comparing it unfavourably to the earlier, better, film.

16 Comments

  • The 'let's check each other's fillings to see if we're aliens' scene was just too silly for words.

  • It certainly doesn't hold up to scrutiny, particularly the climax which I'm reluctant to talk about here as you can't spoiler replies.

  • I think that there is an amazing amount of detail to making things match up to the original movie, but I agree that it has a weak script and I thought the CGI was terrible in the movie and looked super fake. I think any one who sees John Carpenter's film will see what a great film it is as well as what an awesome director he is. I am just amazed that they made a prequel almost 30 years latter and I am not surprised that it flopped.

  • I wouldn't be surprised if it was originally envisioned as a proper remake but rather than causing a shitstorm with fans they changed it to a prequel. It is essentially the same film just with different bookends.

  • It's wasn't that horrible but I agree John Carpenter's version was waaaaay better. But this one was still enjoyable.

  • I find it funny in Carpenter's Thing, the creature only shows itself when backed into a corner, while this one basically takes any chance it can to reveal itself.

  • I guess they have to show the monster as they can't sustain interest through unforgettable characters and flat atmosphere alone.

  • Kurt Russell , you just cant beat that .... not sure if I wana see the remake

  • I was so hugely disappointed by this because I was eagerly reading up on the production and when I saw all those prosthetics I was just filled with excitement. Then they for whatever reason replaced it all with CGI that looks just awful. I gave it two stars because I didn't hate it or anything, I just expected a lot more

  • Not sure why this review has been bumped up to the top of my activity stream. I was just editing a small spelling mistake.

    @Kalia: As long as you watch it knowing it won't come close to Carpenter's film then it isn't a bad film.

    @Fabian: Yeah, the decision to ditch or cover up the great animatronic and practical effects was baffling.

  • @ adam... may take me a while to get there... Im doing 25 days of JC next month... but I kind of felt like it wouldnt be as good as his film anyway so maybe it will be ok ...

  • That sounds like a great movie marathon, kalia.

  • Im very excited .. thank goodness Josh owns most of them !

  • I thought it was decent. The original is far superior, though it is interesting to see the events beforehand. I agree about the CGI, it's far less impressive than the practical effects in Carpenter's film, though it does allow for mutations to be more over the top. I also thought the climax in the spaceship was a bit out of place.

  • I still can't believe they spent money on some fantastic practical effects and then discarded them for unconvincing CGI.

  • Yep, it was a lazy move on their part.

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