John Carpenter’s The Thing has built a cult following since its release in 1982. The film is a horror classic, hitting all the right notes with its manipulation of paranoia, isolation, and the sense of the unknown. It’s natural that a studio would want to come along and steal some of that glory once again. Rather than remaking The Thing once again, the studio has opted for a prequel that hits many of the same notes as the first film…but delves further into the mythos of the creature. Is the early script draft by Eric Heisserer a resounding love letter to John Carpenter or just another insult to a horror classic (I’m looking at you Rob Zombie)? Find out inside.
Warning: SPOILER HEAVY!
It’s safe to say that the script is good, really good. In the original 1982 film, helicopter pilot MacReady discovers the remnants of a Norwegian base that had previously housed the alien being. This base is the center stage for the prequel.
Ennio Morricone’s score opens up the movie as we see the still white Anarctic landscape. A group of men form a semi-circle around something deep in the snow that they have discovered.
Cut to Kate Lloyd as she and a team of experts are being transported from McMurdo airport to the remote Norwegian research station (known as Thule Station). The head of this team, Dr. Sander Halvorson, has been invited by his friend Edvard Wolner to research what they found near Thule Station.
Some fan complaints bring up the fact that a Norwegian research station should be all Norwegian (as thought from the first movie). As Kate explains to the pilot Carter, the team at Thule are not all made up of Norwegians, which primary objective is geoscience.
By the time that Kate arrives at Thule, the Norwegians have already removed the block of ice from the ground with the creature inside. The ice only leaves vague detail of how the creature looks, a long bodied humanoid.
Kate and team then proceed to the site of the ship excavation, where the opening of the hatch has caused radio and various electronic disruption. The team repel down into the tunnels of the ship to examine its mysteries. Fire and scorch marks adorn the halls of the ship…a hint of past events that led to the crash. They carry on into a holding area in the ship for research artifacts. It seems that the space travelers were scientists and one of the objects/organisms they discovered was violent and broke out. Though this seems left mainly to guesswork and never fully answered (as it should).
Things get bad at Thule, with the ice now melted, the creature is free to run around. Dogs are dispatched to find the creature, who doesn’t take their barking lightly. The creature then begins to dispatch of the human inhabitants of the research station, with Kate as one of the first targets early on in the script.
We learn that the creature doesn’t absorb inorganic material, so teeth fillings and false teach come into play when attempting to discover who has turned into the thing. A scene plays out similar to that of the petri dish from the first movie, though things occur on much larger scale here.
It is at this point in time that a systematic string of events play out so that all props, settings, bodies, etc. appear as they are in the first film. While Kate has some of the team tied down, a distraction occurs outside…and to make matters worse, Edvard has transformed with the intentions of causing a S*it storm. Rather than being a single creature running along, the thing splits out into insectoid and centipede type underlings. It is at this point that every single one of the characters is in jeorpardy in different rooms of the station. Edvard has himself turned into what I would call an Über-Thing, a massive mutation that Kate and Carter unload on as it stumbles through the station. Carter takes out some of the smaller creatures with a bloodied ax (which makes a return appearance in Carpenter’s film).
Once the burning Edvard-Thing is left outside, Kate and Carter go after (or so they think) the remaining thing as it races back to the ship to lift off. With one final action set piece, the fate of some surviving characters are left hanging open…to be resolved with the first film.
For those that wish to know…there are a few references to the first film, include a mention of U.S. Outpost 31 and MacReady’s photo appears on the wall of the McMurdo pilot’s office with a joke written across it.
Now for the pros and cons. The script seems to hit the right beats as the first film (though of course, this time around not as unique). None of the dialogue is over the top and nothing is offensive to the original (well, there might be one thing). Many of the characters are still alive for a major portion of the film up until the final thrilling two action sequences that come back to back. MOSTLY everything is set up and tied up nicely to Carpenter’s film.
As for the bad, primary protagonist Kate is a boring character. She lacks any good lines and is a stark contrast to MacReady from the first film. Though she is generally the smartest of the character set, unraveling the mysteries before anyone else, she is generally just a nervous and suspicious character all around. She gains more of a leadership role somewhat like MacReady did in the first movie, having fewer lines in the beginning and having more of a presence in the second half of the film. Also, the character of Carter is a cheap 2 dollar knockoff of MacReady’s character.
The movie plays its hand too early, showing a full fledged human transformation presumably about 30 minutes into the film. Further, though I wouldn’t personally call this a negative (others might), the full creature in its true form is shown towards the end as it attempts to gain control of the ship.
There is one contradiction to the first film, that being the videotape of the Norwegian discovery. There is no one identified as videotaping these events, and the explosions on the videotape happen under different circumstances. Hopefully this is an issue fixed in one of the later drafts.
Overall, I would give it an 8 out of 10. The script is a nice welcome back to the world of Carpenter (though he is not behind the helm)…even if this movie was not necessarily wanted in the first place.