Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
For many years I had heard nothing but praises for John Carpenter's The Thing, but knowing how much goes over hyped in modern times, I had my reservations. I can't quite remember why I finally took the plunge, but what's important is that I did. Am I here today to tell you about one of the most overrated horror films of all time, or to sing it's high praises? Read on to find out.
The Thing takes place on a small scientific research facility in the cold Antarctic. Nothing out of the ordinary for the crew manning said station, until one day they watch as men aboard a helicopter are chasing and firing upon a defenseless dog that's running like the dickens. The husky escapes from the angry Norwegians and finds a new home within the facility housing our main characters. It just so happens that the dog is actually an alien that, after consuming someone, can perfectly replicate the person's looks, voice, and even personality. From here it's a struggle to figure out who is human and who's not while the crew tries to survive each other.
The Thing is probably the most immersive horror film I've ever laid eyes on. The viewer is treated almost as a member of the crew; you know just as much as they do about who's infected, and you'll certainly have your own suspicions and doubts. It's this immersion that is ultimately the film's strongest point amongst many well fantastic aspects. While you never quite get emotionally attached to any of the characters, the film is thorough with their personalities. They're still interesting even though they do somewhat fit under stereotypes. Thankfully it's never overbearing in this regard.
Furthermore, there's a huge sense of suspense and claustrophobia to every scene. These guys are stuck in the middle of nowhere, and the most chilling part of it all is when they realize that they're probably not going to get out with that thing around. Although it's rather subtle I find that realization to be the most profound moment in the entire film. It's what really sticks with you after all is said and done, and I might go so far as to say that it's the defining scene in the movie.
The alien monsters we have here isn't exactly without a face, but it's certainly not a pretty one. The Thing can be many things, from a quivering mound of slithering meaty tentacles to an explosion of separating flesh; you never know quite how it's going to reveal itself to the members of the crew, and that's part of what makes the experience so horrifying.
The Thing is also solid in regards to the sci-fi elements. The film treats the viewers to not only a large back story as to how the thing came to fruition, but we also see how the alien learns and thinks through the dialogue and realization of the main characters. One of the more chilling moments is when the protagonists break into the empty Norwegian camp only to find the back story of not only discovering the alien ship buried within the ice, but to their downfall at it's hand.
The special effects are actually quite good for a horror film from the early 80s. The alien tentacle effects are the only weak link here, but because they're so shocking it's really hard to complain that they look so artificial. One particularly well done scene involves someone's head falling off, and in turn, sprouting legs like a spider's only to scuttle across the room all menacing like. Overall I'd say that the effects are above average for a film made in this time period.
The performances are also quite good, and I can't think of a single particularly weak link. Macready (Kurt Russel) is the closest to a hero the film gets, and it's an interesting role for a main character. Macready is more human than your typical horror protagonist; while he does value the lives of his companions what he cares most about is his own survival. The rest of the performances are quite genuine, and everyone in the film puts on pretty good scared and suspicious faces. Even the transformation sequence is well acted, and I imagine that was a bit difficult to pull off.
The Thing is not only one of the greatest horror films ever created, but it's equally represented as a great sci-fi picture. You won't find too many horror films that are half as immersive as this one, and it's also terrifying to boot. The ending alone is enough to send chills up my spine.
Read all 48 Reviews
Write a Review
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age