Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Actors: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
If you know anything about my taste, you would know that horror films are one of my least favorite genres when it comes to film. Which is why for the past year I have been trying desperately to find horror films that I enjoy. I am not saying that I never enjoyed any. I mean The Shining is one of my favorite films of all time, but that's Kubrick, so it doesn't count. Anyway, in the past year I have been watching more horror than I have ever watched. I managed to find a lot of modern gems such as Get Out and to a certain extent Don't Breathe. However, through this journey, the thing I realized is that there is a sub-genre of horror that I began to really appreciate. That is, horror films which use prosthetics and makeup effects rather than CGI. This is why I think I really enjoyed films like The Fly, Alien, and now The Thing.
Whenever I tried to look for good horror films, I would always hit this wall. I would never be connected to the film, because no matter how gross, or how disturbing the film is, it always seemed fake to me. Which is why I felt this sort of disconnect. For example, the new wave of horror films such as The Conjuring, Annabelle, and all of these other films did nothing for me. I understand some of the hype behind them, but personally they never did anything to me. I never knew what was my problem with modern horror films. After watching Alien, and The Thing I finally realized what I enjoyed and what I didn't. I don't like horror films that use CGI. No matter how good the CGI is, there is always this feeling that it is fake. However, when I see gruesome prosthetics like in The Thing, I find that genuinely gross and horrifying. Even though it looks fake, it is at the end of the day something that is physical, and not there through computer imaging. When using CGI, they go all out with making it seem like this out of world creature which then disconnects me even more. When they use makeup, they become creative in the way they can actually shape the horrifying thing to be scary. I just really began to appreciate the level of detail and the creativity that these films offered that we unfortunately dont see nowadays, however I am still hopeful.
I talked enough about why I love prosthetics over CGI, now lets get into the actual film. The Thing was a really enjoyable film, if I can use that word. The film had great pacing, and never felt boring or stale. It managed to keep up the suspense and tension throughout the film by constantly allowing the viewer to question who is The Thing. The film was pretty cheesy at times, but I guess that comes with 80's horror films, and I can't really fault it too hard for that. What I really enjoyed was how the film built up the tension. One of my favorite scenes in the film was when MacReady checking the blood of each of the guys. The tensions just kept on building and building as he went through each and every guy. The great thing is that the audience genuinely don't know who it is, so it is actual tensions on both fronts. Obviously when they do figure out who it is, you just watch the marvel unfold. Blood flying everywhere, weird veins grabbing on to things, and this huge Thing in the middle of the room just brings the fear into everyone. The idea that The Thing is able to imitate any living organism is a pretty smart idea for a horror film. This naturally gives the story a lot of suspense, as you start recalling who was missing from this scene, and who has been the quietest and so on. I just overall thought it was a very good horror film, and I will continue to seek out films like this one in order to start truly appreciating this genre even more.
All in all, The Thing is a very important film in the horror genre. It paved the path for many films to come and managed to show what true tension is. The cast is memorable and the actors do a decent job in their roles. The visuals as well are really good for the time. But of course, the shining star of the film is the gut wrenching makeup and design of The Thing. Everything about it was detailed and made to gross you out, which is the point of a horror movie. If you don't really care for old horror films, you should still give this film a chance so that you can check out the level of detail they put into The Thing, you won't regret it.