Omar: 5 out of 5

I feel the need to apologize before saying anything else for the huge gap between this review and the last. I think it’s fairly obvious that law school has been eating up most of my (and Liz’s) time. If you think about it though, some of the world’s best creative talents take their time between projects and everyone puts up with it because they know once something new comes out it’s bound to be worth the wait. Now I’m not saying I’m George R. R. Martin, Guillermo Del Toro (director version), or Frank Ocean but I certainly won’t deny the rumors that my reviews are comparatively in a similar upper echelon.

Moving on!

Liz and I love Halloween and try to watch as many horror/sci-fi/thriller/etc. movies that we think fit the theme during the month of October. We try to stick to ones we have not seen before, a perfect opportunity for me to finally watch the original The Thing! I know it’s considered a classic, one that has been on my to-watch list for far too long.

Before jumping into the review I’ll give you a little context. Back in 2011 there was a prequel/reboot of The Thing, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. As someone who had not seen the original, I didn’t enter the theater with any expectations. In a way I’m glad this was the case otherwise I would’ve been too critical, too wary of the prequel ruining any of the magic of the original. The main reason I even went to watch this movie was because I knew it was supposed to be a bit of a big deal and one of my friends was a diehard fan of the original. As a result of my ignorance the prequel was highly enjoyable and ever since I’ve been meaning to watch the original. I liked the prequel so much that I even looked into the backstory and lore behind the series because when I really like something I become a bit obsessive. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on Wookiepedia or researching the complex history of the Alien series. Besides the great plot, good acting, and awesome monsters, I also enjoyed the film because it starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead. This was all hot on the heels of her role in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, another film that I highly enjoyed (including the comics and video game). Anyway, in the process of doing all my post-watch reading I believe I spoiled a bit of the original for myself. Luckily it took me four years before I actually watched it and by then the details had become hazy.

Going into this viewing I had very high hopes because this movie was the work of John Carpenter, maybe THE no.1 master of horror. This is the same man who directed my second favorite horror movie of all time, Halloween (second only to The Shining, by the way). It’s rare to find things that live up to immense levels of hype and that is especially true for me when it comes to horror movies. When it comes to The Thing, BELIEVE THE HYPE!

This movie begins right where the prequel ends, in Antartica with a Norwegian helicopter in pursuit of a escaped dog. It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that the things don’t end well for the helicopter crew. Do things ever end well for helicopters in movies? This is something I don’t seem discussed much but if I see a helicopter in a film I almost automatically that everyone inside is as good as dead and about 8/10 times I’m right. The American research team, the characters of this story, see the aircraft go down and send a team to investigate at the nearby Norwegian camp. Once inside the camp (pictured above) they find the charred and disfigured remains of everyone inside. These first scenes set the stage for what comes next at the American camp. While watching this I kept getting excited seeing everything at the Norwegian camp thinking, “I remember this! I remember what happened here!” and that was an awesome feeling. I mentioned the Alien series earlier and I think these two series are highly comparable. In fact I think that The Thing deserves just as much praise as Alien and Aliens get. The reason I bring this up here is that I had similar moments as with the Norwegian camp when I first watched Prometheus. While in the end I didn’t really love Prometheus in the Alien universe, I did think it was awesome to see things the movie explored that connect to the original series (despite whatever Ridley Scott may say about how the ships are unrelated or whatever).

I don’t want to give away the events that unfold at the American camp in this movie but lets just say it’s a wonderful mix between Alien and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers but with more jaw-dropping makeup and effects. Honestly, the makeup and effects in this film are probably the best I’ve seen in any film. This was made prior to things going the way of cgi yet the team here managed to create some of the most original and grotesque creatures I have ever seen. You know how certain movies have gruesome transformations or killing that makes you go “siiiiick, that was awesome!”? Well this movie was FULL of those moments. This is one of those things where if I had watched the original before the prequel it would have made me enjoy the latter a bit less. That isn’t to say that the prequel didn’t do a good job because it did but the original just can’t be topped in that category. Take a look at some of these images below:

You get the picture!

Another thing I really enjoyed about this film was that the characters actually acted logically! I’m all for suspension of disbelief but certain things are just too ridiculous to forgive. The horror/sci-fi genre is known for having characters, individually or in groups, who make the incredibly stupid decisions that make you roll your eyes and lost sympathy for them. In this movie the characters react much like I would expect any logical group placed in their situation might react. Of course people aren’t robots and some handle pressure better and others are less stable but those are realistic attribute variances that this movie does a great job of depicting. Speaking of characters, the main guy here is Kurt Russell and props to him because he was a complete badass in this movie. Not only does this guy handle pressure well, he also has some luscious locks, a beard that commands respect, and WIELDS A F***ING FLAMETHROWER!

As a fellow beard enthusiast I have to give ’em an A+ rating for the combo of beard + leather jacket + flamethrower. The acting by the rest of the cast was great but it’s not secret here that Russell is the star of the film.

I wanted to discuss another aspect of the film that Liz brought to my attention. Before watching the film I had read that opinion was split on the sound in the movie. Carpenter decided to do with very minimal use of music. Instead he decided silence or the sound of harsh winds blowing outside were a better substitute to a concrete score or horror sound effects. Liz told me that this movie was given a Razzie nomination for worst original film score. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! The score here, when used, was absolutely fantastic! And the point of using the sound of the wind or complete silence most of the time was to emphasis the desolate and isolated atmosphere in which this movie takes place!

Clearly I was a BIG fan of this film and while writing this review I went back in forth mentally as to what score I should give it. I felt a little hesitant to give this movie a 5 because I realize I’ve given 5’s out a few times before now I had to wonder if maybe I was handing them out a bit too liberally. After some reflection I realized that it would be a complete injustice to reduce this score simply because I’ve watched a handful of other great movies recently. Without any real intention I end up watching far more horror movies than any other kind and most of the time they are awful, sometimes they’re original and thought-provoking, and very rarely are they entirely impressive and original. I am happy to report that this is one of those rare horror movies that will forever be a 5 out of 5 in my book.