Anyone who has seen John Carpenter's 1982 cult classic sci-fi/horror flick, The Thing, has a pretty good idea about what to expect from next month's prequel of the same name. There's some flexibility, in terms of exactly which characters do (or don't) survive - otherwise, their final destinations are basically set in stone.
Part of the appeal of next month's prequel - which is (somewhat confusingly) also titled The Thing - is more the promise that modern-day special effects will be used to bring the film's namesake to (horrific) life. Those who don't want to wait until the flick hits theaters can now check out the disgusting monster in the newly-released red band trailer.
The Thing starlet Mary Elizabeth Winstead has spoken out before about the titular creature - which was briefly glimpsed in recent TV spots - and assures fans that it's definitely something worth seeing on the big screen. Based on the newest footage, however... that doesn't seem to be true.
First, here is the official synopsis for The Thing:
In the prelude to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film of the same name, paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to Antarctica for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew’s pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish.
So, to reiterate: The Thing has virtually an identical premise - as that of Carpenter's film - along with some familiar character archetypes and all-but-fixed outcome. What then does it have to offer, in terms of innovative creepy alien effects and disturbing horror material?
Find out by watching the NSFW red band trailer for The Thing (via IGN) below:
Winstead has said the Thing was brought to life via CGI and practical means, but the footage of the creature unveiled so far appears to have largely been digitally-rendered - and, unfortunately, not all that convincingly either. The effects in Carpenter's film are relatively dated, no doubt, but there's still something viscerally unnerving and genuinely grotesque about them, even today. The prequel's version of the creature, on the other hand, already looks kind of cheesy.
However, what ultimately made Carpenter's Thing so literally chilling (jokes about the bleak frozen setting aside) was not that its monster actually seemed real - rather, because it served to enhance the paranoia-inducing atmosphere of the film. The tension that lingered throughout the movie was due in no small part to the ever-present threat that a seemingly benign human could turn out to be a monster in disguise.
Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel, on the other hand, is already between a rock and a hard place: most moviegoers know in advance how things are ultimately going to go down, so watching the film will feel more like playing a guessing game about which character is going to be knocked off next. Thus, in order for The Thing to work, Heijningen has to create a truly menacing atmosphere. Sadly, based on early footage, it looks more like he's simply resorted to a handful of scary movie clichés instead.
We'll see if The Thing can still surprise when it arrives in U.S. theaters on October 14th, 2011.