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Apr 24, 2014







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The Thing (R)


By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Scientists find a spaceship frozen under the ice in Antarctica and bring in a team to dig it up (and then die one by one) in The Thing, yes, another remake or whatever.

Technically (according to Wikipedia) it’s a prequel to the 1982 The Thing. But that’s fine — this movie is the good kind of repurposing of old content. It stands on its own.

American paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is asked by an old friend and his mentor to come to Antarctica, where a team of scientists and Norwegian adventurers have just made a stunning discovery. Deep beneath the ice they have found a giant spacecraft, and not far from that,, they have found, as one scientist ominously calls it, “the occupant.” They dig up the alien and prepare to run tests on it. Because a plucky female scientist always has to say something like this, Kate suggests they wait — we need a sterile environment and we don’t know what we’re dealing with, etc., etc. Naturally, the arrogant scientist leading the dig ignores her legitimate concerns and drills into the ice anyway, extracting a sample from the alien.

And then the screaming and the blood splattering and the skittering alien noises start.

This particular kind of alien propagates by infecting a human host and replacing it with a human-lookalike alien. Very quickly, the gang isn’t able to tell who is human and who is now an alien.

OK, I went into this movie biased to like it. I like a good horror or suspense movie where the characters are scientists (as opposed to, say, dumb college kids on a camping trip) and where the action is confined by the elements (the lack of an atmosphere, for example, in Moon or the death-cold of Antarctica here). One of my all-time favorite The X-Files episodes was “Ice” from the first season, where an extraterrestrial entity infected scientists in an Arctic lab and the “well” scientists had to figure out who the infected ones were before anybody could leave or risk infecting the entire population. This movie may be a remake/adaptation (I’ve never seen the originals), but it reminded me a lot of that episode and the nicely creepy feelings of suspense, claustrophobia (inside) and being lost in a wasteland (outside) it generated. There isn’t really one surprising thing about The Thing and yet it still managed to be enjoyable.  

In a movie like this we only truly have to care about one person and Winstead fills that role just fine. She’s, well, she’s Dana Scully enough to be believeable as a smartypants scientist and enough of a can-do girl to root for even as those around her are infected and taken over.

The Thing is a good creepy time. B

Rated R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images and language. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and written by Eric Heisserer (from a short story by John W. Campbell Jr.),
The Thing is an hour and 43 minutes long and is distributed by Universal Pictures.






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