Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Horror,Mystery,Thrillers Movie Review: The Thing (1982)

Movie Review: The Thing (1982)

The Thing (1982)

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Kurt Russell

What are the ingredients that go into making a good horror film? As a viewer, I would say it is not that sudden burst of loud background music accompanied with blood and gore which scares me(it does put me off though); rather, it is the fear of something evil that may befall in seemingly normal conditions or the anticipation of violence from unexpected quarters which causes goosebumps. Films such as The Exorcist, The Shining and Psycho achieved this to near-perfection, and John Carpenter’s The Thing is another film that deserves to be in the company of these illustrious works.

A dog is chased down by a helicopter apparently without reason, and is saved by a group of scientists. However, the dog turns out be some strange life form and attacks the crew members. The threat is fended off for the time being by torching the dog, but further investigation leads to the startling revelation that the life form is actually from outer space and is capable of imitating the person whom it kills. This causes the crew members to become paranoid as they do not know which one of them has already been taken over by ‘the thing’. In the desolate terrain of Antarctica, with no one to trust, each person has to fend for himself. As the tension escalates, the struggle for survival becomes more and more intense.

The ensemble cast does well to convey its fear, helplessness and isolation. Kurt Russell here has a complex, two dimensional role to play, as someone who, in the bid for survival, has to take decisions which are morally ambiguous. However, he could have done a better job in conveying his emotions more convincingly. The background score by the maestro Ennio Morricone is minimal and effective. The pulsating beats in the opening scene really set the viewer up for the ghastly events that are to follow. Thankfully, the movie refrains from using music blatantly to create shock-value. Instead, it is subdued and works to create an atmosphere of tremendous apprehension.

More than actors, The Thing is a director’s movie. John Carpenter does a splendid job of narrating a shocking tale of paranoia and distrust. The element of mystery, introduced in the opening reels, continues to haunt us right till the very end. The most terrifying moment comes in the ‘blood test’ scene and bears testimony to the adept filmmaking by Carpenter. The scene, much like the entire movie, builds up at its own pace and catches you unaware at the right moment.

The Thing is not the kind of horror flick that would you jump out of your seat. Instead, the film, with its isolated setting and the ubiquitous sense of impending doom, plays with your psyche and very gradually sucks you into the proceedings. This is a major reason why the movie works so well since the atmosphere of extreme distrust and the loneliness of all the protagonists makes you wander into those dark corners of the mind which you would certainly want to avoid.

Tense, atmospheric, and most importantly, scary, The Thing is recommended for all those horror film-buffs who want something more than just needless gore in their movies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post

Don McKayDon McKay

Don McKay is a bizarre little independent film from first-time director and first-time screenwriter Jake Goldberger. In his debut film, Goldberger is luck enough to have 3 former Oscar award nominees