SNOWY scenes and big surprises? No, it’s not another Christmas movie. Instead it’s a paranoia-filled fright fest in prequel The Thing.
After an alien entity is discovered frozen in the Antarctic ice, scientist Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is called to join a remote Norwegian outpost to help safely remove the inhuman being.
But the sinister creature is not as dead and helpless as suspected, and soon uses its shape-shifting mimicry to attack the isolated party.
With no way of determining who is human, can the group survive the night?
John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi-horror remake The Thing remains an effective and influential movie to this day; ticking off a plethora of deep-seated scare types ranging from the ‘hidden enemy’ and fears over isolation, to body shock courtesy of chillingly realistic animatronics.
So to even contemplate tackling a staple of the genre begs the question: why bother?
Thankfully, director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. approaches his incarnation - set before the opening scenes of the 80s Kurt Russell shocker in the Scandinavian outpost featured in the original - with the same stringent veneration as the hoards of horror fans who balked at the notion of returning to scares in the snow.
Eric Hesserer’s script adheres closely to what we learned about the Norwegian camp back in 1982.
Questions surrounding a deformed two-headed beast burned to a crisp, and that axe in the door are answered in this retrospective, with enough careful treading to satisfy.
But this is what also hinders The Thing 2011.
While its predecessor revelled in raising these disconcerting questions to fuel scares and create an unnerving mystique, by strictly filling in the gaps so eloquently left open van Heijningen Jnr makes a rod for his own back - forced to obey the tentpole rules left for him, with little room to manoeuvre.
That isn’t to say there isn’t some space for surprises.
The paranoia remains, though is comparatively dialled down to make way for CG laden shocks (which despite lacking the drippy, tangible dread of the source material’s puppetry still packs a grim punch) and a sci-fi third act which secures Winstead’s strong female lead as more Ripley than Russell-replacement.
But despite the obvious reverence and respect for Carpenter’s classic from the opening shot right through to the end, The Thing 2011’s narrative restrictions and familiar aesthetics affirms its place as companion piece over out-and-out solo sensation.
6/10 - I'm dreaming of a fright Christmas.
See full story in the Chester Leader