Dave White
The Thing Review

Dave's Rating:

3.0

Doing the right Thing.

Some things you should know about The Thing: there was a 1951 version called The Thing From Another World. It shares a premise and a title font with this version and with the 1982 John Carpenter installment, but not much else. Another thing you should know is that this isn't a remake of either of those earlier films. Instead, it's a prequel to the 1982 version, or, The Thing Before The Second Time The Thing Was The Thing. If you haven't seen that one then you should, because it's great, but it's not essential to figuring out this one.

So, this Thing is a 100,000-year-old creature encased in ice, discovered near an Antarctic research facility. It also resembles the look and habits of the 1982 Thing rather than the 1951 Thing -- which was just a growling, howling James Arness from Gunsmoke wearing a big prosthetic head -- with a few added features. It's part black lobster, part "Audrey II" from Little Shop of Horrors and part "Mongroid" from Clive Barker's Tortured Souls line of digustingly cool action figures. It eats you or it replicates you, turning you into a Thing yourself and doing so without your knowledge. Obviously, when you start eating your fellow scientists, you kind of get that you've turned into the Thing, but until then it's a secret.

In all monster movies, both the good and the bad, the monster's job is to stalk its prey and devour the stars in how-famous-is-this-actor order, which it does here on schedule. And like all halfway decent monster movies, it succeeds in delivering on at least one of the two monster movie requirements, which are creating tension and creating really sick special effects. The monster behaves monstrously and the people behave more or less like they do in the earlier version, including plot points that will feel more like it's aiming to be a remake than the creators probably intended. But that's not the most important thing about this Thing.

There's also just enough tension to keep it all moving -- nothing on the level of early John Carpenter, of course, a man whose greatest talent was tormenting audiences with sustained dread -- but its biggest achievement lies in its monster-ness and in the destruction and mutation of human flesh. Obviously, if you're the delicate sort, that isn't going to sound like a selling point. But it is.

I'm not talking about Human Centipede 2-level barf-inducement, and that's not what the majority of people are looking for anyway, even most of the Non-Delicates out there. This is for the monster nerds, people who enjoy gory gut-spilling, tentacles, claws, chomping fangs and sticky slimy Fangoria goo. You guys will get everything you want, including a lot of creature creation that appears to incorporate non-digital elements into the show (another way the 1982 version hit it out of the park). On that level, in its own bloody, mucus-driven, R-rated way, it's happily old-school and serious compared to the non-tactile, pixel-driven, meta-monsters most films deal in now. Just the right Thing for an October Saturday night at the movies.

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