The Thing is a long way from groundbreaking - instead, it is a solid effort in the horror genre.
Serving as a prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), which was in turn based on Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby's The Thing from Another World (1951), the film brings us to Antarctica where a beacon has been discovered by a Norwegian science station. Upon investigation, the Norwegian scientists discover a crash-landed spacecraft and an ice-preserved extra-terrestrial.
Dr Sander Halvorson (Thomsen) is put in charge of analysing the findings and calls in the help of palaeontologist Kate Lloyd (Winstead) to examine the body. However, just as the bunch of scientists crack open the booze and begin to celebrate their discovery, the Thing wakes from what seems to have been a cold-induced hibernation.
The Thing reveals itself to be a fearsome and vicious creature and Lloyd and her fellow scientists must engage in a fight-or-die battle with this worthy adversary. This is an adversary that cannot only kill man, but also hide in man: it is a shape shifter.
The desolate and vast icy expanses of Antarctica are a superb setting for what is essentially a survival movie. The inhospitable climate sets a bleak background, which fits the desperation and fear of the characters that are battling for their lives. Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr uses this setting well and portrays the isolation of his heroes excellently, delivering an unsettling mood.
When this is added to the refined, sparse cinematography of Michel Abramowicz and the music of Marco Beltrami, we have a horror film that has genuine edge and suspense.
The story is not a new one and therefore it is the way the story is told that makes this film work.
The soundtrack - a mixture of heavy bass and orchestral tones - evokes emotions befitting of the script.
The Thing itself is a throwback to Eighties gore and special effects rather than CGI, which is an appreciated nod to the style of the original film.
A film which jumps out as a reference point for The Thing is James Cameron's Aliens (1986). Both films have excellent and realistic special-effects depictions of terrifying aliens and are set in distant and isolated locations, cut off from outside help.
Another similarity is the use of a heroine to guide the plot. Sigourney Weaver's performance in Aliens was exemplary and while Winstead is not in the same league, it is a very respectable effort from the North Carolina woman.
Joel Edgerton is the other big name in the film. His performance in Warrior gave him street cred as a badass, which he replicates here.
The real screen star is the Thing. It is a tentacle-laden, teeth-gnashing foe and owns the screen.
Aliens and humans colliding in desolate climes more often than not produces Darwinian battles and The Thing is no exception. The underlying psychological motif is survival: whether that is the alien's survival or the humans'.
The pacing is just right - bar perhaps the dénouement - and keeps one wondering throughout what the next point of battle will be.
The critics have panned the 2011 version of The Thing. One particular critic present at the screening I attended left with a look of disgust plastered across his face. But, do remember that the 1982 The Thing was destroyed by critics and has gone on to become a cult classic of the horror genre. I'm not suggesting this is as good a film; I'm saying horror fans will enjoy it and will definitely want to re-watch Carpenter's version.
For those who find the tale rewarding, a read of Who Goes There? by John W Campbell Jr might prove worthwhile. The 1938 novella is the original inspiration for the trilogy of adaptations.