Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter
Director: John Carpenter
Running Time: 109 mins
The Thing is an American film about the occupants of a remote Antarctic research base which becomes terrorised by a mysterious and lethal creature that takes on the form of those it devours.
Not only is The Thing a masterpiece of gruesome, effects-driven horror that hasn’t aged a day, but it’s also an ingenious portrayal of the devastating potential of paranoia, proving just as mentally exhilarating as it is brutally gory.
Admittedly, things do take a little while to start here, however after a brilliantly intriguing opening scene, The Thing is able to plant powerful seeds of doubt in your mind before the story has even got into first gear. From there, the whole film is a gripping game of second-guessing, as you’re never quite sure who to fear and when.
Complete with a piercingly eerie musical score from the legendary Ennio Morricone and a thrilling blend of exhilarating tension and no-holds-barred violence and gore from director John Carpenter, The Thing is a movie so gruesome you’ll want to look away, but so captivating that you’ll never quite be able to do so.
While its cast of characters may not be the most fascinating or well-fleshed out, they’re there to act as a way for you as the viewer to consider just what you would do in such a terrifying situation, with Kurt Russell’s MacReady a brilliant blend of both the level-headed and powerfully paranoid approaches to surviving an onslaught by a devastating creature.
What’s more is the way that The Thing uses paranoia and ambiguity to such great effect, crafting a horror experience that always has you on your toes and looking over your shoulder (figuratively speaking of course).
As the creature at the centre of the story takes on the form of those that it has brutally devoured, the movie soon descends into a cagey thriller where you’re always on edge as to who you can trust, and when the seemingly inevitable and gruesome end is coming for each of our characters.
I wouldn’t call The Thing an overwhelmingly intense psychological thriller, but it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen that unites mentally exhilarating drama with unyielding horror, and that makes it an utterly mesmerising watch from start to finish.
And even though you may think such an effects-heavy horror from the early 1980s would look outdated today, The Thing’s brilliantly crafted practical effects are so gruesome and so shocking that you won’t be thinking about anything else. It’s bloody, nasty and plain disgusting to look at, but it’s eternally more effective than CGI could ever be in this scenario.
Overall, I loved The Thing. An utterly thrilling watch from start to finish, the movie ingeniously blends brutal horror and gore with mesmerising and suspenseful psychological thrills, playing on paranoia as we see a group of men desperately try to survive the onslaught of a vicious creature. So, that’s why I’m giving it an 8.2.