Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Thing

The Thing; horror, USA / Canada, 2011; D: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., S: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomson

A Norwegian research base discovers a frozen UFO beneath the ice sheet on Antarctica, and thus American paleontologist Kate and Adam are secretly summoned to help investigate the place, under the supervision of Dr. Sander. They discover an alien in ice and bring it to their base for studying, yet it frees itself and reveals to be an Arthropod-like creature that attacks and kills one crew member. The others react and kill it with a flamethrower in the exterior. However, upon microscoping the dead alien tissue, Kate discovers it is still active - and able to perfectly mimic and copy the cells it absorbs. One by one, the crew members are killed by the alien, and Kate is unsure who of the crew members might be the thing in disguise. In a showdown in the UFO, Kate manages to kill the alien with a bomb. She also toches Carter, suspecting he is the alien, as well.

Almost three decades after the premiere of arguably the scariest horror movie of the 80s, Carpenter's "The Thing", Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. delivered a worthy prequel with his eponymous film that offers enough surprises and strength to flatter the original. One of the improvements is the fact that the authors listened to the complaints aimed at the original, which had no female characters, and thus here gave the leading role to a heroine, Kate (very good Mary Elizabeth Winstead), which gave more color to the cast. The rest stays faithful to the original: it is a 'minimalistic thriller' set in only one location, highlighting the icy landscapes of Antarctica as an allegory for the deprivation of humanity when the heroes are being chased by a shape shifting alien, an evil without a face or form, which some have interpreted as a manifestation of the subconscious evil that stems from the human soul (nationalism, irredentism, greed...). However, some inconsistencies that plagued the 1st film, seem hard to shake off here as well: if the alien perfectly "takes over" and mimics a human, could that character even know he was "taken over"? And if it copies his or her emotions and intellect, does that influence the alien's consciousness as well? Does the alien feel the same feelings of the host? Also, why didn't the alien simply "absorb" one human character quietly, and refuse to transform into a monster so that nobody could know? All these questions are left rather vague and confusing, yet the movie works, regardless. One of the most unbelievable moments are again those involving the shape shifting formations of the alien - in one sequence, one character brings a wounded man inside the pool room, but his hand "comes off" and grabs his shoulder with his tentacles, revealing to be a part of the invasive alien organism - which hint at why the people still talk about "The Thing" today: unlike many other Sci-Fi films, where aliens are always presented humanoid, this one is truly "alien" and foreign to us, with a biology and anatomy completely contrary to any known organism on Earth.

Grade;++ 

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