Monday, 4 October 2010

The Thing

I remember as a kid (probably age 10 or something like that) watching The Thing. I was probably trying to appear cool to my older friend from next door who watched a lot of horror. I remember saying something like "This could be my first horror film". Needless to say, it scared the bejesus out of me! Of course now I'm a lot older (not necessarily wiser), I can see it for what it is: a great film.

I've seen The Thing several times since, and I felt an urge to watch a film to restore my faith in movies, having watch Eragon the night before! The film starts with some Norwegians trying to shoot a dog. Doesn't sound like much, but the desperation of the Norwegians is brilliantly enhanced by Ennio Morricone's simple yet effective music.

Dominik Hauser – The Thing (Ennio Morricone)

Actually, it's interesting that when you first see the film you're probably routing for the dog, hoping it escapes. But in subsequent viewings you're thinking "Just shoot the dog! How hard can it be?!". Which leads nicely to my only problem with the film. When the Norwegians land their helicopter at Outpost #31, they try again to shoot the dog using a rifle with sighting scope as the dog is jumping up at one of the Americans. The shot misses and hits the guy in the leg. However, when Garry (Donald Moffat) tries to shoot the Norwegians (who have somehow blown up their own helicopter), he first smashes a window to shoot out of (why? It's the Antarctic, it's freezing, open a door!), and then shoots the guy from miles away with a pistol!

Onward from the niggles. The rest of the film plays out as a suspense/horror. Though some of the special effects may not look as smooth as what may be "run of the mill computer graphics", I think this makes it better. If heads growing spider's legs, or chests opening to reveal big teeth were done in a computer, it just wouldn't look as physical or gruesome as it does. I think CG often have the effect of pretty-fying effects that should be scary. E.g. I still can't watch American Werewolf in London, it still scares the hell out of me (I couldn't watch all of this video! So it might be the wrong one!), but watching the recent Wolfman starring Benicio del Toro at the cinema wasn't really scary, I think simply because there was so much CG, it looks too smooth and pretty!

You gotta be fuckin' kidding.

But the suspense is done brilliantly (maybe that should be tension? (see here)). Doors banging in the wind, the isolation of being out in the Antarctic, people missing, and of course the blood test scene, putting a hot wire in a Petri dish of blood to see who is not what they seem! Not knowing who might be The Thing, is very nerve racking (I guess it's best not to see the film too often for this to still be tense). I also love the way the characters become ever more desperate, not knowing who is human or not, losing all power and heat, and eventually the realisation that none of them are going to get out alive. The lack of happy ending just adds to the tension and bleakness of the film. I was also reminded of Pitch Black as Keith David (Childs) is one of only three survivors in this film too.

Brilliant film, one I could watch again and again, and I'm sure I will.

Why don't we just wait here for a little while, see what happens.

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