I have a tradition of watching a horror movie around Halloween. This year, I selected The Thing because Joel Edgerton is in it, and I’ve thought he is one of the best actors around ever since I saw him in Jane Got A Gun earlier this year.
The Thing is a prequel to a 1982 film of the same name. I haven’t seen that one, but from what I have read, the plots of the two films are the same: a team of researchers in the Antarctic are terrorized by an alien life-form that can disguise itself as a human being.
It is a strong setting. The isolated Antarctic has potential for an eerie atmosphere, and the shape-shifting monster attacking the trapped team could have made for a tense, Alien-like horror picture.
I say “could have” because it squandered its potential. The biggest flaw was the wildly inconsistent behavior of the monster. It would attack people, replicate them exactly, and seemingly copy all their memories and knowledge. Sounds pretty smart, until you realize that in its normal form, The Thing was powerful enough to just wipe out everyone there with brute force.
Also, it was a major plot point that The Thing could only copy organic material; not artificial stuff like fillings in teeth. Again, this was a cool idea, but it was completely contradicted by the fact that The Thing apparently could copy the clothes its victims were wearing, because whenever it appeared in disguise as another human, it was always dressed identically to the real person prior to their demise.
None of the characters were especially memorable–Edgerton’s was probably one of the better ones, but that may have just been because he was the only actor with whom I was familiar. The heroine of the movie, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is not bad, but the script is muddled as to whether she is supposed to be just a regular scientist fighting to survive or an Ellen Ripley type of character.
In the end, The Thing suffered from the most common problem in all horror fiction: it showed the monster too much, instead of relying on characters and atmosphere to create a mood of fright and tension.
It is really difficult to find good horror and good sci-fi movies. Caveat: horror and sci-fi movies from the 50’s-early 60’s are great by definition.
Absolutely–very hard to find. FWIW, here are some of the good horror films I’ve seen:
-The Omen (1976 version, not the remake)
–The Haunting (1960s version, again; not the remake.)
–The Mothman Prophecies
The Shining also wasn’t terrible, although I don’t love it the way a lot of people do.
I think the Shining is pretty good, but my husband LOVES it. I’m not nearly that much of a fan.
I hit send by mistake, lol. I really like the Omen. I’ve never seen the Mothman Prophecies.
Mothman Prophecies is more of a weird and eerie movie than just outright horror. Many people find it boring, but I enjoyed it.
For me, The Omen is pretty much the gold standard for horror. Just the music for the opening credits scared me more than most modern horror movies do over the course of two hours.