Old ‘Thing’ better, scarier than new ‘Thing’

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By Laith Salama / Staff Writer

By Laith Salama / Staff Writer

The thing about “The Thing” is that the only difference between the old “Thing” and the new “Thing” is special effects.

John Carpenter’s “The Thing” took place in an Antarctic American base where the new one was Norwegian.

Surprisingly this movie is not a direct remake.

This “Thing” was a prequel,  telling the events of the previous attack of the alien before it reached Kurt Russell in the original film.

The monster in the original was completely animatronic, which gave it a strong presence.

The computer-generated monster in the remake is a little more distant.

So when the entire monster is shown, the computer animation just shows how fake the monster is.

In its core, the movie is about trust. The monster has the ability to eat something and imitate its cells, even something as complex as a human.

So the audience spends the majority of the movie trying to figure out who’s human and who’s not, until they realize (if they realize) that there’s no real trend in who becomes the monster or not.

The writers were going for the shock factor but it ended up just being bad writing, with no rhyme or reason to the way the beast operates.

They mention that the creature likes to be alone with its prey (true enough in the old one, but not at all in the new one) which makes the  audience follow who they’ve seen alone with the monster, and then a randomly selected character would break violently in two and eat someone.

But it is a horror movie after all.

There are also a lot of unanswered, perhaps unimportant questions.

How does a creature like that operate an enormous space ship? All by itself no less?

If this creature can operate such a spacecraft it must be intelligent and therefore, why is it so bloodthirsty?

When did the American assimilate with the monster?

Where does the main character Kate Loyd, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, go between this movie and the one before it?

How many of these monsters were there to begin with?  

Why was the music so forgettable? Well it is a horror movie, but some of the best film scores ever written have been from horror movies.

Actually, the music is unnoticeable until the end when they play the one-string two-note base soundtrack from the original.

The filming is fairly average with an occasional good shot that probably could’ve been shot better from another angle.

The acting is convincing but none of the characters are interesting enough (or alive long enough) to be fully enjoyed or to allow the audience to really get to know them.

There is, however, one thing of note in the film: the setting is perfect for a horror movie.

It’s isolated from the world in a blistering cold environment that makes the audience feel equally as alone as the characters.

The power flickers on and off, more so towards the end, adding suspense and setting the audience up for a good scare.

The conditions make it impossible to go outside, leaving the audience feeling trapped right along with the characters and communication with the rest of the world is extremely limited. It is only them and . . . “The Thing.”

But despite all the glaring problems with this film, it is not a complete loss.

It is actually enjoyable, especially to fans of the original. It delivers similar scares to a newer audience, though unfortunately audiences these days will probably laugh at the glorious animatronics of the 80s.

This is director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s first film and it’s a solid one. Though not particularly impressive to the genre, he now has a foot in the door.  

As a horror movie, it does its part. Like the old one, audiences will still find themselves caring about who lives, who dies, and who is “The Thing.”


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