The Thing (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Thing</strong> (2011)

(In theaters, October 2011) Did we really need a remake/prequel/rehash of The Thing?  Certainly not: while special effect today may be cheaper and easier than what John Carpenter had to work with, their impact is muted after thirty years of ever-gorier film horror.  There’s little of the first film’s sense of isolation, desperation and paralysing terror –something made worse by the film’s intention to ape the original only to end at the very beginning of its prequel.  The link is elegant, but it only drives home the recycled nature of this creatively bankrupt sequel that show what was best imagined.  It’s not a terrible film, mind you: It’s done with more care than you’d expect from a cheap B-grade horror movie these days.  Some sequences are almost interesting, and the integration of the horror with the science fiction isn’t badly done.  (What’s not so successful is the sense that the enemy, borrowing more from contagion than identifiable monster, is undefeatable no matter what the protagonist does.)  Still, most of The Thing’s virtues aren’t original (what it doesn’t steal from the original it borrows from the Alien series), and it becomes weaker the moment it tries something new: the test to determine who’s human and who isn’t doesn’t do much more than bring back the memory of the first film and distinguish between an inspired film and one that merely imitates one.  As an Antarctic thriller, it’s better than Whiteout or Alien versus Predator… but that’s really scraping the barrel of comparisons.  This year’s The Thing just feels like a useless film, one where the gore seems even more pointless than usual.  I wonder if a back-to-back viewing will enhance the experience of both, or simply highlight the derivative nature of this remake…

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