Viewed – 14 December 2011 Cinema
When I first heard about this, I as many I presume, was up in arms. John Carpenter’s 1982 classic was one of the defining horror movies of the 80s and along with assured acting chops from Kurt Russell and brilliantly freaky make-up effects from Rob Bottin, surely revisiting such a movie should be considered unthinkable? Well in the current vogue of remaking everything (big breath … Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th, Prom Night) it is clear to me Hollywood is feeling a little dry on the new ideas-front. Yet wait! This one isn’t a remake … it’s a prequel. So erm, that’s alright then, yeah?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, yes that foxy chick from Scott Pilgrim Vs The World plays a Paleontologist recruited by a Russian research team following the discovery of an alien space craft buried under the Antarctic Ice. Yet no sooner do they dig up a large creature buried near by, all hell breaks loose. Yet this creature is no brainless, salivating monster, but is able to take on the appearance of anyone it kills – leading to the terrified crew looking at each other to figure out who just might be ‘the thing’. This is very competently acted and atmospheric stuff, with a solid turn from Winstead as well as her older co-stars. Comparing it to Carpenter’s movie, which is inevitable as setting, mood and much of the action is deja-vu similar, this has some great moments, mostly down to some gooey and bonkers effects work (mostly CGI sadly) which are done well, if somewhat lacking in the blood & guts department. Also the gradual build up of tension as the finger is pointed in a number of directions, is handled admirably.
In the movie’s attempts to try something new and not just be a shot-for-shot remake, it lets itself down a touch by not being quite as clever as before (dental fillings?? Really?) and the ending gets a tad confusing, mostly down to the chaos of proceedings and the fact many of the supporting cast look a bit too similar to one another (hairy men alert!). Yet this ties itself in nicely with the first movie to make an enticing double-bill prospect, and as a remake / prequel the movie honors what has gone before, whilst delivering enough thrills and freakiness to make for a worthy tribute.
Verdict: 3.5 /5