Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead,Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Ilsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
I am not a big fan of horror films: usually they are compiled of more guts than Bear Grylls, enough blood to give Dracula indigestion, and a level of acting that would make an episode of Eastenders feel like Chekov. However The Thing, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., is one of a small number of horror films that relies on suspense and tension, without resorting to gratuitous blood and gore, well nearly (autopsy scene for one). Dubbed as a prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), the story tells of the events leading up to the original, of a frozen alien discovered in Antarctica that can assume the appearance of its prey. Sounds interesting enough doesn't it?
The idea that the enemy is among you and you cannot identify it or know what it looks like is a sensation that makes this film, as well as other psychological horror films so successful, as friendship and alliance between the characters is put to the ultimate test which demands one thing: trust. Despite this the film fluctuates between a psychological thriller, and a good old fashioned bloody horror flick with cliché lines, and a narrative that is both predictable and monotonous. The film lacks pace at the beginning, but is carried along nicely through a balance of tension and brief spells of action as each team member succumbs to their predictable deaths. Apart from a few famous faces, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost), and the odd recognisable one, the cast is not complied of what you would call A-list stars, however each character plays their part perfectly until they meet a grizzly demise. The effects of the creature, although impressive, are by no means groundbreaking, the script as mentioned previously is predicable for a horror, despite including moments of creativity which are great fun. It is your typical, average horror film with enough violence, death and carnage to sustain you for the full one hundred minutes of viewing, any longer and you will be cheering every time a character is bumped off.
Overall I found The Thing, not disappointing, but lacking in something that I cannot out my finger on, maybe it is just me. Maybe it will be forever inferior to the original; however without the immense shadow of the first film, it is questionable whether this prequel would have received the popularity it has if it had been a standalone film. It is by no means down in the gutter with the later Saw instalments, nor is it revered like films such as The Mist (2007) or The Omen (1976), it is a good cinematic romp, and if you are a fan of the original or if you enjoy your horror, The Thing will sustain your bloodthirsty appetite until another more horrific film comes along.