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The Thing



Well... I can't even begin to comprehend what the hell I just saw. It's most certainly not like anything I've seen before, and I doubt I'll see anything like it ever again (although it did remind me of Alien a little bit).

Anyway, the plot follows a dozen American scientists in the middle of Antarctica, their purposes for visiting are never explicitly revealed, although it can be presumed that they are there for Scientific purposes. But being hundreds of miles away from any other base, they are taken by surprise when a Norwegian crew approach their base, viciously hunting a dog. After the Norwegians chopper explodes and the sole, frenzied survivor is killed for shooting one of the crew, they take the "dog" in, where they realise that the specimen is far more deadly than they ever could have imagined.

Positives

The plot and narrative is so distinctly unique and so unbelievably apt and fitting for a horror film. Being unable to tell who has been infected due to the parasite's ability to perfectly replicate and imitate its victims inevitably allows us to understand how some characters completely collapse with the mental and emotional strain of being totally alone and unable to trust any of their peers, with their sense of hopelessness only being emphasised by the environment being one of the most desolate and lifeless places on Earth. Nevertheless, I feel as though credit largely falls on the writer of the original short story, a man named John Campbell Jr. However, the writer here, Bill Lancaster, did nevertheless include many original aspects that were just as effective and haunting.

The direction is superb as well, a tense atmosphere is created immediately, that is slowly enhanced throughout the first half of the film by the revelation of bloody axes, UFOs and the discovery of charred corpses that are too deformed to possibly be human. A sense of claustrophobia and discomfort also bubbles away underneath the surface due the large quantity of characters occupying such small amount of places, that simultaneously increases the tension. However, once it is revealed that the thing can perfectly emulate its victims, the whole film turns into a guessing game and you can't help but be as pre-cautious and suspicious as the characters in the film are. The death scenes are astounding as well, and are genuinely quite terrifying and shocking, and since they are spread out evenly throughout the film, we are given just enough time to recover from one ordeal before confronting the next one, that maintains a consistent level of fear. It's not difficult to see why this is John Carpenter's personal favourite out of all of his films, for his direction here is amongst his very best.

If you asked me to guess what year this film was produced in, I never would have said anything near the 1980s for the singular reason of the effects. They are absolutely sensational and manage to superbly create a sense of absolute terror and fear. Everything about their appearance and the awful ways they manage to contort themselves is petrifying. Also, the fact that they featured violence against dogs in the first half had my heart-breaking, I feel as though they definitely had some courage to stay true to the original story in that aspect, because I think most of us are more traumatised by the death of an animal over humans in all honesty.

The score is very simplistic, which is probably why it was Razzie nominated, although it works and is magnificently appropriate for the scenes it's paired with.

Negatives

The acting was nothing special, and neither was the dialogue in parts. Therefore, the film is a little slow in places, but due to the writing and direction, this isn't really a problem at all, considering both the performances and some of the dialogue is only mediocre at its worst.

I kind of feel this film suffers from the "too many cooks spoil the broth". I only memorised about three names by the end of the film, and it was difficult to keep track of what had happened to who, but after a while, you at least become accustomed to everyone's faces, so it's only a slight inconvenience, and this is used to Carpenter's advantage as described up above.

Also (this is a very subjective view) I wasn't too delighted about the fact that so so SO many questions are created but are then never answered. I could write a book that could contest War and Peace about all of the questions that I wanted answered but never were. However, in some regards, it just increases the mystery surrounding The Thing, and the fear of the unknown is certainly one of the many fears that this film manipulates.

Conclusion

An absolutely terrific addition to the horror genre by an array of talented film-makers. It is genuinely terrifying especially due to the pioneering effects. However, this film isn't a spectacular display of acting, but very few horror films are. Certain omissions may leave you a bit dissatisfied when the film does end, and it is a little tedious and dull in a very few places. So I can't give it a perfect score, but I'll give it the next best thing: