The Thing: Must Watch for the Halloween Season
By Caelan Webster, Opinion Piece, The Pawprint
During October, many people find themselves facing a scarcity of quality horror movies to enjoy. Especially in the modern era, horror movies are usually found to be cliché, with overdone jumpscares and weak storylines. The Thing is a 1982 horror movie that expertly subverts these expectations. The horror of the movie is gleaned from intense build-ups and harrowing climaxes that completely break the general structure of the medium. If you are an avid horror fan, or just want an incredible watch this halloween season, look no further than John Carpenter’s “The Thing”.
In terms of premise, The Thing is brilliantly simple. An ambiguous “thing” is found in the arctic region by a group of researchers. It can take the form of anyone, and begins killing and taking over the bodies of the crew. This relatively uncomplicated premise of “who-done-it” is warped into a deeply serious, unapologetically brutal film with believable characters. Despite the realistic rationality of these characters, and their attempts to uncover the infected killers, their attempts continue to prove futile at best, and cataclysmically destructive at worst. With distrust mounting amongst the crew, the film is intense throughout, with one of the greatest endings of any horror film.
Furthering the iconic nature of the film are the ground-breaking special effects, which are all done practically and exquisitely. Even forty years later, the effects still hold up and exceed most modern movies. Bolstering these special effects, and their inter-cutting scenes of distrust and ambiguity, is cinematography that is unparalleled in aspects of discomfort and unease. Each shot is isolating, disorienting, or uncomfortably intense throughout, instilling a sense of terror in the audience. From sweeping shots of barren landscapes to unnerving close-ups of protagonists, the art of filmmaking is readily apparent in The Thing. But above all else, the cast, starring Kurt Russell, put on performances that have only ever been matched by “The Exorcist” and “The Shining”. No other group of actors have been able to showcase such realistic reactions to this form of extraordinary circumstances.
To conclude, The Thing is a movie formed in a masterclass of talent and vision, changing the meaning behind horror from obvious jump-scares to one of the most potent levels of overarching dread and uncertainty. No plot-point can be guessed or inferred, every climactic moment is justified and terrifying, and the ending is one that will leave the viewer thinking for hours afterwards. It is truly a horror classic, and one that everybody should view for themselves.
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