The Thing

The Thing

“I don’t know who to trust.” “I know what you mean…”

I know I’m gonna get some flack and gaping jaws aimed my way for saying it, but I’ve been up-front in the past when I’ve admitted that it’s my first time seeing a seminal work of cinema, so yeah: I’d never seen John Carpenter’s The Thing before now. I knew Carpenter for Halloween mainly, and I’d just never gotten around to seeing this, pretty much for no discernible reason. I knew plenty who held it in high esteem, however, so it was really only a matter of time before I saw it; that it ended up on the list just exacerbated the process. Well, now that I’ve seen it, I get what all the hype is about, even if I wouldn’t necessarily throw any of my own hype on top of it all.

The story is simple; an isolated crew of Antarctic researchers end up infiltrated by an alien being capable of assimilating and mimicking anything, or anyone. Thus, the paranoia and mistrust grows ever higher, as the titular creature picks off the survivors one by one, and the survivors try and kill the creature once and for all before it can escape and infect the entire planet. Great premise, played beautifully and executed with skill and style by Carpenter and his wizards of practical effects. I’m pretty damn sure that David Cronenberg considers The Thing one of his favorite films, since the practical visual effects are so Cronenberg-like that it would be easy for some to think he directed this one, were it not for Carpenter putting his name before the title. But the film is a lot more than that; the effects only come into play at the key points of the film. The rest is just pure paranoia, as we are left completely unaware of who is who, and who may not be who they say they are, and the film keeps it ramped up at an excellent pace, mostly by simply staying out of the way and letting it build on its own. Much has also been said about the score to this one, which was quite good, mostly thanks to its minimalism. I was not aware that Ennio Morricone did the score for this, either, until I saw his name in the opening credits.

I’m very pleased that this ended up being just about everything it had been made out to be. My expectations weren’t sky high, but they were up there, and this was incredibly enjoyable for all the right reasons. And, like I’ve said in the past, I can forgive those who have yet to see it since I hadn’t seen it either until tonight, so if you haven’t, ignore all the “OH MY GOD”s you’re bound to get from your friends and just seek out a copy and watch it. It’s worth it. It’s a slow burn of a film, but it’s a fire that burns so, so good.

Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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One thought on “The Thing

  1. I love this film. I credit this with being responsible for my love of horror movies despite having seen Poltergeist a few weeks before I saw this. I was taken to this at the tender age of 14 by a brother and sister who both wanted to see the new John Carpenter on opening weekend and were also supposed to be watching me. It was the first time I got treated like an adult by my siblings, so for me, watching horror movies was something adults do, and thus I love them.

    What works for me here isn’t so much the gore and the scares (although most of them still work, too) but, as you mention, the intense paranoia. Few films can produce this level of constant unease and almost none of them do it this well.

    Good call on the Cronenberg connection, too. This is body horror at its best.

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