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The Thing: A good thing?

November 1, 2010

By Dillon Sutherland, Staff Writer

With Halloween drawing closer, you may be in the mood for a frightening movie. If a thrill is what you seek, John Carpenter’s The Thing will have you horrified.

The Thing revolves around a group of military scientists stationed in Antarctica. The plot takes a bone-chilling turn when they accidentally uncover a shape-shifting alien that has been buried for centuries underneath the snow. The scientists do not realize that an alien is in their midst because of the creature’s deceptive appearance. Slowly, the scientists realize that after the alien consumes and infects its prey, it replicates its appearance to that of its prey; and, after the shape-shifting alien preys upon several of the scientists, there is no way for the survivors to knows who is human and who is infected. With no communication, no way out and no way to know who’s who, they attempt to survive among each other.

The biggest name, and most likely the only face you’ll notice in the movie, is Kurt Russell, who plays R.J. MacReady, the helicopter pilot of the station and protagonist of the film. So, if you’re looking for a movie with astonishing acting talent, you won’t find it here, which is common among horror films.

The movie does not focus on the emotions of the characters. Rather, the location and editing of the film do a good job of setting the tone. The film is shot over vast expanses of ice fields to keep the viewer thinking about the isolation and peril facing the main characters.

Along with being a good mix of horror and science fiction, the movie plays on the viewer’s psychological fears. With no means of escape, the outpost members fall apart. Through the breakdown of the military base, you get a sense of the internal and mental fears experienced by the characters.

Though petrifying at points, any horror movie fan will appreciate the film’s use of aliens, monstrous creatures and plenty of gruesome deaths and dismemberment. The film incorporates the horror elements of the parasitic aliens, as well as an internal sense of fear.

Unfortunately, another scary part aspect is the almost laughable special effects. It’s ‘scary’ by how ridiculous they look. While they are brilliant in concept with their techniques and make-up effects, they suffer from poor execution, which takes away from the film’s fear factor considerably. It’s hard to take scenes seriously when ridiculous visuals pop up and almost ruin the whole mood.

Upon its release, the film performed poorly at the box office. However, over the decades it has received a cult following and has even been revered as one of the great horror films. You may not have heard about The Thing, since it’s not a terribly important film, but even with it’s flaws, it will surely satisfy your darker side. At least for spirit of Halloween, you should watch this movie. I give it a B.

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