Monday, 1 November 2010

The Thing (1982) - The List Hero Review

Being Halloween, the girlfriend and I decided to indulge in a supposedly "scary" film and, after having a browse on the Internet, I discovered that The Boston Globe newspaper had called John Carpenter's The Thing "the scariest movie... ever!"  So, upon watching this supposed classic, I began asking myself "exactly which bit is meant to be frightening?"

The film began promisingly enough; for a film of the early eighties, it was well produced and the music had an air of menace in it (avoiding any of the usual eighties cheese!)  The key, in my opinion, to horror films, is the unknown - and The Thing gave us that to begin with; a destroyed Norwegian research centre and a mysterious dog.  Hmmm... what was going on?

All good so far.  But things rapidly went downhill from there...
The effects and make-up of the alien, which received critical acclaim at the time, suddenly erupts onto the scene.  It looks ridiculous, immeditately ruins the initial element of suspense and I quickly want to switch off.  The scientific team then come up with some bizarre findings and (completely unsupported) predictions that the crew instantly believe to be facts without any question whatsoever.  My interest is decreasing rapidly.

But there is still potential here - the suspense can still build (aliens lurking around the corner, dark rooms, etc etc).  Unfortunately, none of these things really ever occur.  Tension?  Zero.  Suspense?  Zero.  Fear?  Zero.  Do we even care about any of these characters?  Why should we - none of them have been given a personality, a background, or any kind of development.  There's also the question of why the crew puts so much faith in Kurt Russell's character - to me, he just seems like an arrogant alcoholic tosser - but perhaps if we'd had a bit of back-story (anyone know why they're actually on the Antarctic?) then we might know why they all respect him.

The whole thing turns into a big waste of time and when it all comes to a "climax", I'm pretty apathetic towards the whole situation.  Spielberg's E.T. wiped the floor with this at the Box Office in 1982, and it's obvious why - Spielberg knows how to make you care about the people on screen - this film doesn't.

Scariest movie ever?  Wake me up when it's finished.

The List Hero.

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