Written by Will Taylor.
Although released almost 40 years ago, few films have managed to recreate the same feelings of paranoia and existential terror that The Thing brutally delivers. The film received a bad reception on its release in 1982, being referred to as “the most hated movie of all time” by Cinefantastique. However, in the years since its release it has gained a huge cult following. It is now regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi horror movies ever made.
The film follows a group of scientists in an Antarctic research outpost as they try to make sense of, and eliminate, a flesh eating, form changing, alien parasite that threatens all life on Earth. The life-form takes over the bodies of some of the scientists. This leaves the protagonist, MacReady (Kurt Russell), wondering who he can trust. The film quickly becomes a witch hunt, the occasional savage death occurring in between tense interrogations, leaving the audience to wonder if they can even trust MacReady. The final showdown brings the film to a swift close, still creating an uneasy feeling in the usual John Carpenter style.
The visual effects may seem outdated when compared to some modern movies, however, the impact that it has had on cinema is undeniable. As well as successfully delivering an eerie cinematic experience to audiences, John Carpenters’ use of visual effects sets him aside from many other filmmakers of the time.
Composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone, the soundtrack will have you on the edge of your seat with this synthesised score. Building up tension until reaching its peak in the most action heavy scenes in the film, forcing the audience’s need for conclusion.
Colour palettes in films are often looked past, however they can have a huge influence on audiences’ emotions. Cold colours such as blues and purples are typically used to symbolise isolation and an absence of life in movies. Filmed in a predominantly cold colour palette, The Thing specialises in forging an atmosphere of despair and desolation. Warm colours are barely used, only appearing in the use of fire, blood, and the ‘Thing’ itself which arouses an instant fear of the colour, especially when contrasted to the bleak backdrop of the rest of the film. The minimalistic colour palette mirrors the barren environment in which our protagonists are forced to cohabit with this deadly being.
In my opinion, The Thing is one of the most influential sci-fi horror films of all time. The writing, acting, directing, cinematography, use of props, and story all contribute to the making of this cinematic masterpiece. I highly recommend this film to any fan of horror.