Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Thing

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A group of scientists living in Antarctica encounter an alien being that is let loose from the ice and is able to shapeshift to assume human form.

Scariness factor: This movie has some excellent special effects that will scar you for life. I typically am all about subtlety in movies, and most of my favorite horror flicks don't rely much on special effects. But I've gotta say, this movie is reliant on them, and they are some damn good, and haunting, special effects. You will get scenes of a horrible-looking alien, scenes of the alien half-way morphed into human form and being set mercilessly on fire, and the most terrifying--there is a scene where the alien sorta of erupts from its human form, its head engulfing the head of a man nearby and sending him writhing and squirming in the air as he is chewed on by this thing. So goddamn freaky I'm surprised I slept last night.
I also am intrigued by two different ideas that this movie offers (which I've been fond of in other movies as well): the notion of folks being horribly trapped, in that no matter what choice they make (to stay or go) chances are they will die (Dead Calm is another good example of this where they're trapped on a boat with a killer and have nowhere to run--they can either try to swim away and be caught again or drown or stay and be tortured). In this case, it's either stay and battle the alien or leave and freeze to death in the sub-zero weather of Antarctica. This adds to the creepiness of the movie because, unlike typical horror flicks where you end up wondering why things are quite so terrifying when all they have to do is run run run run run and hide hide hide hide hide and eventually they'll be able to escape, there is a certain claustrophobia and hopelessness to the situation.
The other idea I like is this notion of the alien assuming a human form, all the way down to thought and mannerisms and actions. This is terrifying to me because not only can you not trust anyone around you, you can't really trust yourself either, because perhaps YOU might be an alien as well. Good shit.

Originality: Kind of a spin on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers idea, but the idea of not being able to trust anyone is much more intense.

Complaints: The lack of logic in the movie made me roll my eyes a bit--I mean, these men know that some sort of alien form has come to where they are at in the Antarctic and tried taking the shape of a dog, so one of the head scientists types this information into the computer and is told that "There is a 75% chance that someone is infected" and a few moments later that the chances are high that the alien would spread like wildfire and take out most of the human population if it was unleashed into a city (within a certain period of the time that the computer is able to also compute). Now, how the computer would actually be able to calculate all of this when the men don't even know what this being IS or how it WORKS etc. is beyond me, but I sure as shit wanna get me one of them computers.

High Points: The special fx--no contest. They really are impressive and terrifying. Trust me, pics may give you a bit of a clue, but they don't do the special fx any justice--you need to see them in terrifying bloody action.

Overall: I was actually quite impressed with the film since it's not one whose name I hear tossed about often between horror movie geeks. I went in leery (it has Kurt Russell in it who usually makes me wanna rip out all of my teeth, and the beginning made me wonder whether or not I was gonna be able to get into it since it starts off with a flying saucer) but I left the movie really damn scared--it will leave you with some horrifying images that will stick with you for a while, so if you're a special fx geek or you just like being freaked out, I'd definitely recommend.

Grade: A-



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