The Thing (2011)

body horroryes
violence toward animalsyes
Bechdel-Wallace testfailed
Mako Morifailed
X was the real YIt turns out that risk-aversion is the real monster.

Ever wondered what happened at that Norwegian base prior to the events of John Carpenter's the Thing? No? Oh.

I've done some thinking since I watched this prequel on Friday. I don't think I can come up with a coherent argument for this movie existing. I'm not saying this movie is bad per se (I think it does a bunch right), but that isn't enough.

The original is a very good movie that has held up well. It also feels complete. This movie tells almost the exact same story, and approaches it the exact same way. A new movie approached with the same aesthetics as The Thing would be great. A new take on Thing could be good (Horror Express is a good and different take [that came first]).

If The Thing had been worse, then a similar and less flawed film would have been great. But it isn't, and this wasn't. This even might have made sense if it had been lower budget, but not at almost $40M. For that price we could have gotten several more experimental films.

But this movie exists, so let's talk about it. It does a lot right. It has a good understanding of what made the original good. They avoid a lot of bad tropes: Characters take problems seriously; we don't waste time trying to work out how to kill the thing; and the movie avoids needlessly sexualizing female characters.

I think it also walks a pretty good line between existing in the same reality as the original and doing its own things. It uses its mixed Norwegian/American cast to elevate distrust.

[SPOILER-y] e.g.: The movie finds a different way to replicate The Thing's blood test scene. It also references the secret tunnel in an interesting way.

I do have some complaints. I'm not a great fan of jump scares, and I especially don't think they work here. Jump scares seem like an antithesis to the tone and tension of the film.

[SPOILER] More egregiously, this film takes us to the space ship (probably in an attempt to predict the disappointment that would be Prometheus). It is weird how much this part with Mary Elizabeth Winstead reminded me of another movie she was in that shouldn't have been tied to a previous franchise.

[SPOILER] It also opens up an unnecessary plot hole. Her character is still alive during the events of the Carpenter film.

Ultimately, this is a competent but too-conservative horror movie. I enjoyed it, but can't in good conscience recommend it. Instead, watch something more experimental, even if more flawed.