Thursday, October 24, 2013

Film Review: The Thing (2011)

The Thing (Review)
United States/2011
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...a mediocre horror film, but a decent action film."

An alien spacecraft and specimen is discovered in Antarctica by a Norwegian research team. Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited to safely recover the specimen, but the specimen itself breaks free and escapes...

The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 film of the same name. The team arrives, extracts the specimen, and the ego-stricken leader decides to retrieve a sample without the proper precautions. Eventually, the specimen escapes and is destroyed, only to find out it has and can replicate a human body. The hunt for the alien continues through questioning and tests used to reveal the hidden alien. The story moves at a brisk pace, and stays consistent throughout, but doesn't properly utilize it characters or concept. The film ends as expected -- weakly and predictably -- and features a solid during credits scenes to lead into Carpenter's adaptation.

The Thing really isn't a scary film. Instead of playing out like a suspenseful horror film, like the 1982 adaptation, The Thing plays more like an action thriller. It's more like the recent Resident Evil video games in both action elements and creature designs. On that note, The Thing opts for strong computer usage instead of practical effects; this further makes this film feel like an action video game than a horror film. There isn't much suspense, and the suspense it does build is light and poorly utilized. Instead, we get long, drawn-out scenes of silence that lead to a weak jump-scares. (silence and slow walking ≠ suspense) Also, it's not very logical or smart; I mean, come on, a tooth filling test? It's clever, but filled with so many holes, and clearly an attempt to differentiate itself from Carpenter's The Thing -- if you're going to half-ass it, you might as well copy the film.

The acting is good from the entire cast. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is clearly supposed to be the lead, but she never takes control of the role; however, she does play a generic, one-dimensional character, so she doesn't have much to work with. The film is beautifully shot; the special effects are great, despite being overused, and occasionally feeling ill-fitted. The soundtrack is often ominous, often epic -- really fits the setting. The storytelling is smooth, the story, on the other hand, is filled with clich├ęs -- from its scares and plot to its characters and character arcs. You've seen these film before, and not because it's a reboot (because it's a prequel), but because it borrows so much from other horror films.

Overall, The Thing is a mediocre horror film, but a decent action film. It will kill a night thanks to some great set pieces and its fast pace, but the story just never grabs you, neither will its attempts at horror. In my opinion, its biggest offense is its lack of suspense and dread.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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