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A Movie A Week#20: The Thing

There are loads of rubbish sequels and remakes floating about these days. It’s well annoying. So imagine how much our little faces lit up when we stumbled upon one that was actually dead good. Although technically Matthijs Van Heijningen Jr’s (try saying that pissed) The Thing is neither of the above, so maybe that’s why it’s so pant-crappingly fun.

This creepy claustrophobic horror is a prequel to John Carpenter’s ace 1982 remake, delving deep into a remote antarctic bunker and revealing the chain of events that led to Kurt Russell’s encounter with a shape-shifting alien nasty.   Mary Elizabeth Winstead is our guide this time round as Kate, a plucky scientist who’s flown into the icy wilderness to examine a mysterious find. It soon becomes clear that she’s dealing with an otherworldly creature that’s quite handy at mimicking anyone it comes into contact with. It’s not long before the pointy finger of accusation is being swung about at everyone on the base. And rightly so, as she explains to a returning technician, “Not all of us are human”.

Despite being an origin story of sorts, Heijningen Jr steers away from providing any new information, leaving all those expecting answers sorely disappointed. Make no mistake, the Thing remains just that, a thing. We don’t discover where it’s from or what exactly it’s after, however there’s plenty to admire here. Winstead adds to the arse-kicking persona she claimed for herself with Scott Pilgrim by playing a brainy gal who knows her way around a flamethrower. Think a young Ellen Ripley and you’re spot on. It’s jumpy too, with 1982’s slimy, gory puppet effects given the sleek 2011 CGI treatment. If grizzly two headed walking torso’s do it for you, then this’ll be right up your street.

What’s more, it manages to recapture the same claustrophobic sense of panic and paranoia that made Carpenter’s take so nail-biting. Tensions run high and no one can be trusted as we quickly discover during an innovative reinterpretation of the classic blood test sequence. It may have missed Halloween by a month or so but The Thing is guaranteed to keep you guessing and get you as close to wetting your pants as comfortably possible. Promise.

Originally featured on Zootoday.com

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