The Thing (1982) Review

“… there isn’t one thing that I don’t like about The Thing.”

The Thing is a very special movie to me. Ever since I saw it many years ago it has really never left my mind. It is hard to discuss why exactly we love movies so much, and it is even harder to review the movies that we love, but I’m going to give it a shot. The Thing finds an American research group in Antarctica pitting themselves against one another after their camp gets invaded by a Thing, a creature capable of mimicking any life form perfectly.

Now what I like about The Thing so much is the fact that the film works on multiple levels. It has grotesque (and frankly, beautiful) creatures that you can tell were painstakingly created, and that really invoke these visceral reactions from you; but it is more than just a monster movie. What The Thing does so well is it depicts what happens when a group of men, forced to trust each other to stay alive in Antarctica, have that trust ripped out from under them. You honestly don’t know who to trust in the film and neither do the characters. This makes The Thing one of the most effective horror films in my opinion.

From the moment the film starts we have questions. Those questions are usually answered, but that only raises more questions. What I’m trying to say is The Thing is a film that really makes you think all the way through. Sure there are some aspects of the film that don’t make a whole lot of sense when thou think about them, but in the moment you are so overcome with a sense of anxiety that you couldn’t care less. The ‘lead’ of the film is MacReady, played by Kurt Russell; he acts as our surrogate in the film. Even though the rest of the group is featured almost as much, MacReady is the character that is most definitely treated as the ‘main character’. But the thing (no pun intended) that is interesting about that is the fact that we don’t even know if we can trust MacReady throughout the film. Sure, we want to be able to trust him because we see him as the hero of the film, but that’s the beauty of The Thing, you honestly can’t trust anyone.

The acting in The Thing is spectacular. All of those emotions that are present in the film (distrust, fear, anger, etc.) are only so prevalent because of these amazing performances. It’s not even the outbursts that some characters have that make the acting so good, it is all of the subtleties that make these characters feel real. We get to see what it is like to not be able to trust someone that you’ve known for years. We get to see the dilemma of whether or not to believe anyone. And the score is something that only complements this feeling. The score of The Thing is one that is special because it captures the feeling of the film so well. It is very minimalist in presentation, which captures perfectly how isolated these characters are. The instruments used have a definite sci-fi feel, which accentuates the fact that these men are battling the unknown. And of course it does its job by building tension, not that it was needed to in this film.

Really the only other thing to talk about would be the effects. Now the effects are what made me fall in love with the film originally. To this day The Thing features my favourite special effects in a film. The creature designs are absolutely top-notch. The care and thought that went into these monsters is just astounding to me. The mixture of shapes to allow for familiarity, and alien is just amazing. I mean when I watch this movie I am terrified, but also in awe whenever we get to see one of these creatures. And the effects used in the film to make these creatures come to life are absolutely phenomenal. The way that they move, the way that they die, the way that they attack, the way that they reveal themselves, it’s all amazing to me. I mean it is honestly one of the more impressive things I’ve seen in a film. And most importantly, these effects and designs still hold up to this day. I watch The Thing and I am still able to believe that a man’s head has come off and sprouted legs. That is probably the most impressive thing in my opinion.

Ultimately there isn’t one thing that I don’t like about The Thing. The acting, the effects, the score, the story, literally every aspect is enjoyable to me, which  makes it easy for me to say that this film is a true classic.

I give The Thing an A

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