By: Marielle (Five Beers) –
Standing in line to get my ticket torn, I saw the screen behind the counter had handy facts about The Thing. It is not a remake—but a prequel! The creators said the original was “perfect” and they didn’t want to mess with it. Prequels, while offering a chance to add to a story in theory, often just rip off elements and ideas from the original. They’re just remakes masquerading as something else (see what I did there?)
Here’s something I didn’t know: 1982’s The Thing came after a 1951 film called The Thing from Another World. This 2011 prequel is said to be preceding the 1982 version. All three versions stem back to the original novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell (considered to be amongst the greatest science fiction novellas.) In the 2011 story, a team of scientists journey to Antarctica after a ‘specimen’ and a ‘structure’ are found. To everyone’s confusion and soon horror, the specimen is an alien that begins attacking people and assuming their form. It could be anyone. Even you. (But, you’d probably have an inkling of that after it tore into your body and such.)
If drawn out shots of gross and horrible things is what you’re into, this is the movie for you. The creature at its various stages looks disgusting and certainly provoked a visceral reaction in me. If you’re familiar with The Weekend Pregame, you’ll know I’m not a horror movie fan. I’m not completely accustomed to seeing the type of brutal bloodiness you get in modern horror flicks. Since this is a horror/sci-fi, a toast can certainly be given for gore. The special effects team did their job.
The paranoia was also palpable. While this was at first a strength, it also became a drawback. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and some of the other actors did a good job at being terrified. But, the actors didn’t have many other emotions to work with. Maybe barfing. But terrified barfing.
I felt the “scary shots” were too long. Alien is a great movie because you see very little, but it’s still quite frightening and the tension is handled expertly. Here, I felt like I didn’t just see how the sausage was made, but the bloody birth of the animal too. Let’s just say I’m glad my dinner was vegetarian tonight.
While The Thing had many tense moments, it was almost always due to my anticipating the next loud noise. There were countless instances of being startled. Sure, it’s a scary movie, so that’s great, right? Not when it’s predictable and only a matter of when. The plot also carried very few surprises. And I don’t think I’m just super awesome at guessing.
Back to the point about the paranoia: the fact that anyone could really be the alien made the paranoia not matter eventually. I suspected everyone and therefore I didn’t care anymore. It wasn’t designed like a mystery where you could maybe figure it out and have thrilling fun with it.
There was very little investment in 95% of the characters. Oh no! Another person died and I have no idea who they are! Rest in peace, random white guy. What little peace you can have when your body was eviscerated and assimilated by an alien.
I didn’t see the 1982 version, but reading the synopsis for it makes me appreciate the mysterious back story it set up (or, the story that preceded its plot.) A prequel can very naturally be made. But, that’s a strength of that film, not this one. Fans of the 80s version will find themselves recognizing events that will lead to the remains found at the beginning of the 1982 film. (Explaining this using the proper tense is kinda difficult, you guys.) The 2011 prequel had its plot nicely cut out for it, but didn’t capitalize on this fact at all.
With the book and two previous films all receiving high accolades, why not keep running with it? A prequel fits in organically, yet I feel it wasn’t necessary. But, if you want to see some people exploding, by all means, check it out.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: when someone looks at another character with suspicion
Take a Drink: whenever you brace yourself for a scare (don’t spill!)
Take a Drink: when someone/thing is set ablaze