Film Review: Unsettling Paranoia, Special Effects Showcase ‘The Thing’
CHICAGO – With Halloween approaching, what will truly scare us at the cinema this month? One strong entry is this weekend’s “The Thing,” the third remake of a wild and mysterious monster movie. It combines a European-style approach to paranoia with some truly unique monster effects.
Newcomer Matthijs van Jeijningen directs this version as a prequel to the events in John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” and uses the cold tundra of Antarctica as a character, interacting with the human element that is isolated with a monster they cannot control. The stress of this situation is palpable throughout the film, and that is what sets it apart – the willingness to use simple psychology to generate the fright. The special effects monster itself is one-of-a-kind, created with a look that is fascinatingly grotesque.
An Antarctica exploration team makes an amazing discovery, an energy force that turns out to be a hidden alien spacecraft. The egotistical leader of the team, Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen), wants to keep the findings secret, and enlists a crew of scientists and workers to make sure that will happen. One team member is paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is brought in because the actual alien has been found encased in ice.
Naturally, this life form escapes, and begins to wreak havoc on the isolated crew. The problem is that this “thing” can replicate as a host within other cellular life forms, including human beings. The crew begins to suspect each other of harboring the alien in their cells, and this delusion begins to creep into all the corners of the exploratory camp. Kate Lloyd is the only person to figure this out, and enlists helicopter pilot Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton) to prevent the monster from reaching general civilization.
Photo credit: Universal Pictures