The Thing (2011) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Thing (2011) Review

Horrorific content by Ciarán Coleman on August 15th, 2021 | Movie Review | Alien, Sci-Fi, Desolate, Creature

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It’s about a team of Nowergian and American researchers who have to try and survive after discovering a shape-shifting alien alive in the ice. The film is a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name.

The Thing is a 2011 horror film directed by Matthijs van Heijningen that stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen. It follows the plot of its predecessor a little too close for comfort but several decisions like making it a prequel and utilising a female lead save it from feeling like a stale carbon copy.

It's Not Human. Yet.

The Thing Review

First things first, this film is far from outright bad. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton provide strong performances and a large amount of the special effects (though far from as groundbreaking as Carpenter’s original) are undeniably really good for their time. Both of these aspects help the film stay afloat throughout its confusing runtime. Despite being a casual 1hr and 43 minutes, ‘The Thing’ often drags, plodding from one mundane scene on to the next. On top of this, the ending somehow still feels rushed.

To say these scenes are mundane is a tad harsh; they’re rarely boring or even uninteresting. But simply put, they can’t help but pale in comparison to the film’s predecessor. Similarly, the CGI littered throughout his film are so grotesque they don’t give you the time to be scared.The subtlety of Carpenter’s masterpiece is lost in this film, with way too much time spent showing how gross the alien can be.

Very little separates the 2011 film from the 1982 one but one thing I greatly appreciated was the exploration of more sci-fi elements than just horror. The closer look at the alien and its spaceship was a neat touch. The intense isolation, dread and paranoia plaguing the researchers in the 1982 film doesn’t translate as well in this prequel, but Winstead’s performance really salvages a lot of the weaker scenes.

The lack of practical effects, or rather, the use of CGI was a massive point of contention for fans of Carpenter’s film. The brilliance and impact of the effects in that film is unprecedented and I can’t pretend I wished this film went down a similar route. That being said the CGI is actually pretty solid, especially for 2011 and the creature designs definitely leave their mark. However, the constant use of it and the relentless scenes of body horror and gory alien transformations come across a bit boring in retrospect. Instead of taking the time to build tension or explore how the paranoia affects the small group, a large portion of this film is designated to showing unnecessary cheap, gooey scares.

Overall, if not compared to the titan that is 1982’s ‘The Thing’, Matthijs van Heijningen prequel would come across as an intense, strong and all round decent, if a tad overdone, horror film. Winstead’s performance definitely deserved more praise and the task of remaking one of the most beloved horror films ever is always close to impossible. Despite its many, many flaws, 2011’s ‘The Thing’ definitely isn’t as bad as people say.

Worth Watching?

Yeah. Far from a masterpiece and far from terrible, this prequel nestles perfectly into the just ok pile. At worst, it’ll just make you want to rewatch the 1982 one and who could complain about that?

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