In an effort to rejuvenate my thirst for film I have partaken on an ambitious endeavor. I have decided to compile my list of 100 favorite films, “rewatch” them, and write a brief review. I encourage you to follow along.
The Thing (Carpenter, 1982)
I’ve now seen The Thing an estimated 25 times. I have no way of knowing the exact number, but 25 seems like a round enough guess. All the times I watched this film prior I would often get caught up in the paranoia and claustrophobic feel of the film. It is a film you feel rather than analyze, and John Carpenter’s minimalist camera work, and emphasis on tighter shots, and clever editing heighten the experience.
What holds this film together more than anything is the sharp and detailed script. Obviously this film is not a character study, so the emotions of each character are limited, but there is great depth in their words and actions. There is an intense mystery at play, completely separate from the horrors of the monster, which takes a secondary role to the horror of paranoia and abandonment that each character faces.
When we find ourselves wholly giving into the experience of the film we begin to question every character’s actions and words, right down to the most mundane and seemingly harmless. The best example of this is in what is perhaps the very essence of the film, the final scene between MacReady (Kurt Russel) and Childs (Keith David). They’re the last men left, and in their brief conversation we can infer so much. Is Childs the thing? Is MacReady the thing? Are they both the thing? What makes the scene so strong is how tightly wound the film was leading up to it, which would make you believe the two men are asking themselves the very same questions at that point. It doesn’t work as a mockery of the events leading up to it, but rather, a deeply disquieting overture.
– James Merolla