There’s something incredible about John Carpenter’s track record in the 80’s and 90’s, creating some of my favourite corny films of all time (Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness, etc). The Kurt Russell trilogy is genuinely one of my favourite trio of cult horror films of all time - which is why I was concerned when it was announced that “The Thing” was in production again.
I have to start off by saying that (somewhat of a spoiler) this is a prequel film. It wasn’t necessarily advertised as such, but I think it’s an important distinction to make. The film never really discusses that it is a prequel but takes some of the ideas and concepts brought up in the first couple minutes of the original film and builds upon them. I genuinely think that it is necessary for a viewer to know this going in so you don’t get angry with this film thinking that they’ve done away with John Carpenter’s original.
The plot of the film is very simple: Norwegian scientists discover an alien spaceship and a frozen alien. Upon bringing it back to their base they learn that this alien can shape shift and assume the appearance of people it has killed (which is a large majority of the scientist team). It’s a simple concept, but it keeps you guessing who is “real” or not. If you’ve seen the original film though, you know exactly how this film is going to end - so the stakes don’t really seem high enough.
Acting aside, the biggest draw for me was the creature design. The original film had Stan Winston and a very young Rob Bottin designing all of the absolutely surreal and terrifying monsters, and I felt that the creature design in this new film managed to hold up to the original. Sure, a lot of the designs were computer generated, but the overall “feel” of the creatures was very consistent.
I really liked the film, and thought that it wasn’t nearly as sacrilegious as I assumed it was going to be. If you’ve enjoyed the original The Thing, or are interested at all in the idea - it’s recommended. If you’ve never seen the original The Thing - do yourself a favour and see that first.