Friday, March 05, 2010

The Thing

"I dunno what the hell's in there, but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is."

Our modern sensibilities of horror and fright have ultimately dissipated with the advent of graphic displays of foreign and domestic violence, transforming the spattering of blood into a bawdy spectacle. For this reason, many horror films often fall short, on the one hand, because they are poorly made (see the new Wolfman, for example), and on the other because the filmmakers fail to tap any of our primal fears. The Thing is a rarity in its genre, it is terrifying, and it is successful both as a horror film but also as an exploration of the effects on isolation, loneliness, and desperation on the human mind.
"The thing" is an apt title for the monster in the film, because it does not take on a definitive form; it is always changing. What's more the form into which it is changing is you, that is whenever the monster contacts one of the Arctic researchers of the film, it can imitate their form. And here we see the central conceit of the film: The monster could be in any one of the people on screen. Who are we to trust? Who are we, even more importantly, not to trust? And ultimately, is the monster present within us at all times?Thus, all of the characters are faced with an interesting ethical conundrum, are the bonds of friendship and personal affection enough to overcome the monster inside of us all? To make matters worse, the entire film takes place in a barren and frozen landscape, the cast of characters are devoid of civilized contact. In many ways this film echoes, in a more horrific manner, the social realities espoused in works such as Lord of the Flies. This film is, most certainly not bound to the 1980's in fact, it proves more successful, both as a horror film and as a sweeping social commentary, than most horror films of our day.

Disclaimer: This is disturbing, and by that I mean: Great fun!

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

Gotta love a runaway alien head.