I must say that after seeing the three brilliant and scary interpretations of John W. Campbell’s story ‘Who Goes There?’ – ‘The Thing from Another World’, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and ‘Alien’ – I sat on my couch to watch ‘The Thing’ with a bit of skepticism. However, as I knew that John Carpenter is a cult director in the horror sphere, I was definitely ready for a good scare, filled with a decent level of blood and gore, and maybe not too much of a genuine story.
The first thing that the viewer sees is a spaceship traveling in the galaxy near Earth. Fast- forward a few hundred years: Antarctica, exactly in the middle of nowhere. In the enormous amount of pure-white snow, we observe a helicopter coming in the distance, trying to shoot a dog. But why do they want to catch an innocent creature so badly? That we actually won’t find out (yet…), as the dog runs towards an American station, and after a chaotic couple of minutes and a few gunshots (and dead Norwegians), it is finally safe in the arms of confused Americans.
This is the moment when all the fun starts. It’s like a game of cat and mice between the ‘thing’ (no one knows what it truly is, as it is able to morph and take shape of any organism that is nearby) and all the researches. This insatiable creature is able to thaw out at any moment, killing a person, absorbing him and then imitating in the most perfect manner. Nobody can be trusted anymore. The people become overly suspicious and paranoid. And up until the very last moments there aren’t any special ways of finding out who is human and who isn’t.
Unfortunately, the main drawbacks of the movie are the superficial characterization and highly unreal behavior of all the frightened men. Even though they realize that they are in grave danger, they sometimes act as if their main purpose of being inside the base was to actually get attacked from behind and murdered. What’s more, at times it’s even hard to grasp how many people are actually dead and it somehow takes some of the fun away. Carpenter didn’t put a huge emphasis on the portrayal of his characters; he much rather wanted to astound us with the very realistic special and visual effects, which are actually quite scary and gruesome.
I mean, even though there are some terrifying scenes of gore and pure repulsion, they probably won’t be too expressive for regular viewers (or will they?), and exciting enough to stimulate the blood lust of all the hardcore horror fans. Great music score by Ennio Morricone only increases the mood and the overwhelming suspense of the story.
However, even though it has some minor flaws, it still is a great and thrilling picture, and it stand out from the huge crowd of many dull and muddling horrors that came out in the 1980’s. Dare to watch The Thing, and it will certainly satisfy all your bloodiest desires.