The Thing

This “Thing” is terrible.

Horror remakes are kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. I don’t believe a movie should be panned just because it doesn’t live up to the original that it’s remaking, and there should be some room to just say “this movie was okay” or “this movie was awful” without having to add “…in comparison to the original.” You need to let a film stand on its own legs.

That said, I also hate that Hollywood would rather churn out garbage remakes than give some young filmmaker a chance to create something original that might be worth watching. It’s about the almighty dollar, and if a proven 80s franchise was bankable then, woe be unto the guy who tries to tell an executive that it won’t be bankable – or even good –in 2011.

But you know what that little opening rant means in the spectrum of this review? Literally nothing. The Thing isn’t even a remake of the John Carpenter film of the same name. It’s actually a prequel, designed to explain how the story of the 1982 incarnation came to be.

I don’t mind that idea. Unfortunately, I minded the execution. Big time.

Because she talks the loudest, a bunch of grizzly Norwegian mountain men just jump on board and follow her?

The film begins by introducing us to paleontologist Kate Lloyd, and to her getting an offer to go to Antarctica to study something stuck in ice. That’s as much info as she gets from the man heading the expedition, Dr. Sander Holvorsen (Ulrich Thomsen), and he needs his answer right this second. Because paleontologists are known for their carefree approach to science and life in general, she agrees to go to the other side of the world with this man she just met, and we’re off.

Once she gets there, she meets a team of dudes digging in the ice. They’ve found some sort of…thing… and they’re digging it up in the name of science. Some stuff happens, none of it is interesting, and it turns out the creature is still kicking.

It proceeds to kill pretty much everything, using its ability to mimic its prey and shapeshift to get close, before exploding in often-comedically bad moments of CGI chaos. Oh, and lots of really shrill shrieking noises. Like, so loud and abrasive that it gave me a headache. For real.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the classic “bunch of people getting wiped out one-by-one” formula in horror. I said Scream 4 was one of my favourite flicks this year, and they’ve been using that formula for fifteen years. But this? This is just awful.

Aside from having terrible CGI and no real backstory, the character development is embarrassing.

Kate becomes the de facto leader of the group, but there’s never any reason as to why people would listen to her. Because she talks the loudest, a bunch of grizzly Norwegian mountain men just jump on board and follow her? I outright do not believe that would happen, especially when she’s shown no sign of being better prepared than any of the rest of them.

You also have the evil scientist who brought them there, but he’s not evidently evil aside from the fact that he kind of looks like an angry Sting. He’s focused on his research and getting his samples, but the only thing that makes him antagonistic is that he doesn’t arbitrarily agree with Kate. Given what I said about her gross underqualification, that’s hardly an “evil” way to react.

Then you have the monster, which is a total failure. It’s more or less a mouth on big spider legs, and there’s no explanation as to why or how it’s able to do what it does – besides Kate’s uneducated conjecture and a single scene where she works under a microscope for a minute. I had to go research how the monster worked after the film just to be sure, and I don’t feel like I should have to study a film once it’s over just to fill in the shoddy storytelling.

All of this complaining is only exacerbated by one single plot point that rubbing me like a cheese grater on my eyes: WHAT DO SCIENTISTS AND HOLE DIGGERS NEED SO MANY FLAMETHROWERS FOR?! I like flamethrowers and stuff on fire as much as the next guy, but there needs to be some context here. Are they to melt ice? Cook supper? Play pranks on your idiot counterparts during those long, cold, Antarctic nights? Give me something guys, because I’m dying to get excited here.

If you like horror remakes or revisitings or whatever you want to call this, you might like The Thing. The end scene in the credits, designed to lead into Carpenter’s original, was cool and effective, but it was the only redeeming quality of the entire hundred minutes.

In the immortal words of that guy from Billy Madison, I say to The Thing: I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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