Movie #31: The Thing

I’m not quite sure how to review a movie like The Thing. I have not seen the original 1982 horror movie classic, but I suspect that it was not too different from the pure creature-feature that this remake is. The movie is set almost entirely in Antarctica, where a group of Norwegian scientists invite a couple of American biologists to help analyze their new discovery. What they’ve found is a thousand-year-old alien frozen in the ice. The movie follows a familiar story arc (though I wonder if it was as much of cliche back in the early 80s). The scientists excavate the alien and proceed to thaw it out. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the creature turns out to still be alive and escapes. From that point on (if not earlier), most logic is thrown out in exchange for suspense, chills, and thrills. In hindsight I can’t help but wonder why, with its interstellar intellect, the creature proceeded to act like a savage beast by attacking the science team. After a few skirmishes between the humans and the alien, the humans burn the creature up in a huge explosion. All done, right? C’mon … You know better than that. The hero of the movie, Kate Lloyd (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who you might know as Ramona Flowers — the girl with all the exes — in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) soon discovers that the alien’s blood has the ability to mimic human cells, which leads to the obvious conclusion that it can completely copy and pass itself off as a human. Suspicion plagues the team for the better part of the movie. Who is actually an alien, ready to burst open and shoot out long barbed tendrils to pull victims into its large teeth-filled mouth? (Yes, it’s super-gross, so be sure you wait at least an hour after eating before watching this movie.) Armed with flame-throwers (how convenient), Kate and her posse go around torching the aliens who reveal themselves, while turning on the psychological heat to get the stealthy ones to break. I was a bit disappointed that while tensions were high, we didn’t get many (if any) of those moments of detente where two characters (crossing fingers that the other person is not an alien) would open up and get emotional. I thought those campfire scenes were a staple of these kinds of movies. Anyway, the movie pretty much consisted of creatures versus humans (with lots of suspicious looks from person to person). Numbers kept dwindling on both sides until the final, somewhat ambiguous ending (followed by a slightly confusing epilogue — at least it was confusing plot-wise. I thought that everyone had died — oops, have I said too much? I don’t even know anymore.) As uncomplicated as this movie was (even with all the Norwegian with subtitles), I don’t think that making it more complicated would have helped. This hokey horror remake is creepy, tense, icky, crunchy, and pretty engrossing: everything you’d expect it to be. (3.5 out of 5)

31 down, 19 to go!

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