That’s right, The Thing (2011) is those most hated of things, a remake and a prequel, rolled into one, and I’m saying it deserves respect.
As for prequels, why should knowing the end of a story render it pointless to tell? Invoking the bard once again, no one watching Romeo and Juliet has ever expected them to live happily ever after. No, not even if they were watching it on opening night in the Globe Theatre. It says right there in the prologue that they won’t, but four hundred years later, we keep watching anyway, because the feeling of an inevitability finally coming together can be just as satisfying as a surprise.
And in the case of The Thing, there’s plenty of room and justification for a prequel. It’s clear from the opening of the original that we’re coming in at the end of a previous group’s own horror movie.
Okay, now that we all know my heathen beliefs about storytelling, this entry demands one more pretty major confession.
…*Shuffling feet, shifting eyes*...
I don’t actually like the original 1982 John Carpenter’s The Thing.
I do love the idea of the movie and its monster, but no matter how many times I watch it or how good, alert, and open-minded a mood I’m in, I don’t like the movie itself.
Why? Because as hard as I try, I don’t feel anything for any of these interchangeably loud, angry characters.
In many ways, The Thing premake is what I always wanted the original Thing to be. It’s got a full array of characters to love, hate, trust, distrust, and feel sorry for, including two whole non-computerized women, one of whom is Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
It’s clear a lot of study of the original went into the making of it, from the layout of the facility to all the mysterious remains it sets up to be found (with a few of the trickier details fudged). This movie was supposed to be by Thing geeks for Thing geeks, and for that it’s received no appreciation to speak of.
The Thing premake does have its problems, no question. I could do without the tacked-on, almost happy ending, and even though I’m not as particular about my visual effects as most horror geeks, I do wish I could have seen the puppet work that was done before studio interference mandated CGI.