If you missed out on my “Happy Halloween!” post yesterday, first of all, I hope you had a wonderful evening full of Halloween festivities! In my post, I briefly mentioned that my friends and I finished off our celebratory Halloween party with a first time viewing of John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror classic, The Thing. Now I’ve mentioned this before, but usually with scary movies I tend to read the plot beforehand so I can know what to expect. With this movie being described as full of gory, graphic, bloody horror, I knew this was a hide behind pillows type of situation – and I was certainly right. With absolutely horrifying yet realistic practical effects that opened new realms in the horror genre, The Thing follows an extremely violent but thrilling story that manages to repeatedly excite fans each Halloween. Admittedly, I probably only saw maybe 5-10% of the movie (it was way too extreme for me okay!), but I did follow along with the plot and thought it’d still be fun to share my thoughts on the movie with you.

While The Thing is categorized as a science fiction horror film, the story itself isn’t so much scary as it is suspenseful. Set entirely at a research facility in the Antarctica, I personally felt this was a great choice of setting because it really added to the fear level. That sinking feeling of complete isolation really settles in when you realize these men are entirely left to their own devices…in the middle of nowhere. And really, who realistically is going to come to their aid out here? The barren and freezing environment of the Antarctica definitely helped to elevate the story by upping the stakes and adding to the building ominous atmosphere.

But while the story itself isn’t necessarily “scary”, the horror element of The Thing comes from the incredibly graphic visuals of the disgusting monster and the gruesome deaths it accomplishes. Look, I’ll be honest here, I saw maybe a sliver of what The Thing actually looked like and then I tapped out real quick. It was so so terrifying and gross to look at, and hearing the sounds of ripping bones and body parts was not something I wanted to see. So while I can’t comment in extreme detail as to what the monster looked like, I will say that I deeply admire Carpenter’s use of practice effects to his advantage. With many films nowadays (not just in the horror genre) implementing CGI on a frequent basis, it was refreshing to see a film that relied mostly on its practical props and effects. There was an intensely realistic look to everything that set the scary style and feel of the movie. And by the look of all my friends’ faces as they saw the Thing appear on screen, all I can say is these practical effects did their jobs well.

In terms of the story, what I personally found so interesting about The Thing wasn’t the awfully intelligent and cruel monster at its core or the brutal combat scenes, it was witnessing the breaking of trust among the men. I loved how Carpenter was able to create so much fear and terror simply out of the mistrust that was building between everyone – there wasn’t a beautiful comradery or brotherhood in this film, there was this “each man for themselves” type of atmosphere. While I read critics arguing they wished the researchers instead came together to fight the monster, I found this route of shattering the bonds a lot more intriguing and engaging. Because now, like all the characters in the movie, we have to decide who we can trust and who is suspicious. It was a great way to keep the audience immersed in the actual story and not just in all the bloodshed that happens.

While The Thing had a relatively large cast, the most notable actor is of course, Kurt Russell as MacReady. Stepping up to the plate in their time of need, MacReady easily became the leader of the group with his cool-headed, strategic attitude. I thought Russell was great in this role and he gave MacReady the right amount of sternness and charisma needed to give off that leader kind of energy and vibe. He definitely shined as the lead in my opinion. And although you’re never really sure who you can trust out of all the characters, Russell’s performance as MacReady makes it hard to ever doubt him given his strong confidence.

Kurt Russell as MacReady in The Thing

When we finally reached the end of the film, one of my friends shared a very popular fan theory about the ending of The Thing which I thought was really cool. This theory suggested that in the final scene, MacReady actually hands Childs gasoline instead of alcohol as a test to see whether he had been taken over. I guess the idea is that the Thing wouldn’t be able to differentiate between gasoline and alcohol, so when Childs drinks the supposed gasoline without problem, MacReady’s final chuckle led fans to believe this proves Childs was actually the Thing. While the actual ending itself is rather ambiguous (did they manage to kill the Thing? Or has Childs or MacReady been assimilated?), there’s no way to tell whether these theories are correct. That being said, I honestly love how this film has such a dedicated follow of fans who have consistently tried to decipher the plot. I especially like this gasoline theory for its creativity.

If you’re waiting for me to give my final rating, I’ve actually decided not to give The Thing a score simply because I didn’t think it’d be right of me to do so given I barely “saw” the movie. While I wasn’t able to watch the horrific elements of the movie (that’s what, 90% of the movie?), I really did enjoy the thrilling premise of the film. So instead, I turn to you, have you seen this film and what are your thoughts? What are some of your favourite fan theories if you’d heard any?