Friday, October 14, 2011

The Thing (1982)

This was another film recommended to me on Facebook, it wasn't the surprise hit that was Session 9, but it clearly deserves its reputation as one of the greats. A research site in Alaska strikes me as a pretty genius setting, it's secluded, still on earth and extremely inhospitable, thus pitting a limited crew against the monster in a deathmatch. It's got all the benefits of putting the film in space without the risk of venturing off into the realm of sci-fi and beating the monster with science. This shit is a gritty cage match, and I love it for that. There's not a man among the main cast who's incapable of acting, they're all very believable as angry paranoid mountain men. Most of them have pretty distinct personalities and I found myself caring about their grizzly deaths. Right from the start McReady destroys a computer because it beats him at a game of chess and I knew I was going to like him.

I was excited to see Morricone's name in the opening credits but the soundtrack never really wowed me. It's very much appropriate to the film but I'm used to his music making me stop a while to focus on it for a little bit. It's entirely adequate though, and if it served only to draw me deeper into the film then I can only conclude it did it's job flawlessly. Visually this movie is pretty stunning. At no point do I feel like I'm not in the middle of the arctic. Nothing seems inauthentic or implausible. The titular thing always looks top notch, rubber puppets covered in slime are how I like my monsters to be done, none of that CGI shit. It's also very easy to tell when someone is cold, they'll have realistic frost build up which is a really nice touch.
The story is pretty simple and it works well. It practically sprints to get us into the meat of the film and once it gets there it's a mad dash to the end with no lull. That's something I appreciate immensely. It's rare that the film isn't barreling through deadly situations one after the other. The paranoia of the thing being anyone at any given time adds to the tension, the film addresses this at one point and then leaves us to hope things haven't changed since then. The thing is one hell of a monster too, rather than showing one power it appears to adapt into something more threatening as the film goes on, giving us something new to be scared of all the time. The primary means of fighting the beast is fire, often manifested as a large explosion, this movie loves blowing shit up and I love it for that.

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