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Film: The Thing (2011)

"Somebody was attacked!"
"But it seems... everyone is fine..."

The Thing is a horror film from 2011, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

This film is a prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), which focuses on the Norwegian camp that discovered the shapeshifting alien creature first.

Like the other movie, a house based on the film was featured in the Halloween Horror Nights of 2011.

This prequel provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: One character hides from the Thing in a storeroom, but there's only a pair of swing doors keeping anything out. All he can do is stop them moving, in the hope that the alien won't realise someone has gone inside. It doesn't work.
  • Acoustic License: Averted during the helicopter ride at the beginning. Carter, one of the pilots, waves at passenger Kate to put on the headset next to her so that they can talk clearly.
  • Actionized Sequel: Well, technically an Actionized Prequel, but the principal's the same. Though there's only 5 minutes of difference in run time between them (the original runs for 104 minutes, this one runs for 99 minutes), this film has a lot more outright combat and man vs. monster scenes than the more psychological "sequel". A lot of that is due to Executive Meddling, though.
  • Air Vent Escape: Kate temporarily escapes the alien on the spaceship by fleeing down a vent it's too big to follow. Instead of morphing back to human size, the alien gropes for her with its tentacles, eventually Ankle Dragging Kate into the open. Unfortunately she's managed to get her hands on a grenade.
  • Badass: Lars, who seemingly out of nowhere appears with a flamethrower when a Thing attack occurs. Kate also applies, who by the third act is even referred to as "The Boss."
  • Badass Adorable: Kate, intelligence and bravery aside, has been described by a review as "looking like a cute teenager trying to buy booze with a fake ID rather than an actual adult."
  • Belly Mouth: the Thing loves to pop out of the chest and turn the ribs into teeth.
  • Better To Die Than Be Assimilated: A Deleted Scene shows this is why Colin killed himself. Hiding in the radio room, he hears a skittering noise (presumably one of the hand-Things — the sfx hadn't been added to the scene) and deliberately cuts his wrists, then his throat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Carter is cornered by the Two-Faced Thing with only a kitchen knife to defend himself, when Kate turns up with a flamethrower.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Averted with subtitles. However while all the Norwegians except Lars can understand English, the Americans can't speak Norwegian, and this adds to the tension at some points, like when the Norwegians under suspicion of being infected are urging a flamethrower-armed Peder to turn on the Americans, saying they're the infected ones.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. The resident black guy is directly set-up as The Thing's first victim, but it completely ignores him after breaking free. He later survives a seemingly fatal helicopter crash, and ultimately doesn't end up dying until the mid-point/climax of the movie where all the secondary characters get slaughtered.
  • Body Horror: Due to CGI, there's a LOT more gore, tentacles, fangs, teeth, and bodies splitting apart then in the original. The two-face thing is the embodiment of this trope.
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: Kate is trapped in a room with the Thing between her and the door. She knocks down several shelves into the alien, giving her a chance to get past.
  • Cat Scare: Carter knocks over a can while searching a storeroom for the Thing.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's discovered early on that the Thing cannot duplicate inorganic material, such as metal. This comes back when Kate checks people's mouths to see if they have dental implants or not. It's also used to reveal that Carter is a Thing at the very end of the film, due to his missing earring.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: The husky. It appears he's dead at the beginning of the movie, but then we see him running during the credits, trailed by Lars.
  • The Coconut Effect: One's breath doesn't fog in Antarctica (moisture in the air condensing into droplets when struck by the heat of one's exhalations is why it happens, but since Antarctica is a frost desert, there's very little moisture in the air), but people won't accept that "it's bloody cold!" without foggy breath.
  • Combat Tentacles: Used by the Thing to kill or wound several people, usually as a prelude to assimilating the surviving biomass when it has time.
  • Continuity Nod \ Call Forward: Being a prequel, this is to be expected. Among them are:
    • The fire-axe, and how it got stuck in the door.
    • The UFO, discovered in a massive chamber underneath the ice.
    • The two face-thing, and how it eventually appeared in its melted state.
    • The block of ice, and what it looked like before it was found by MacReady.
    • Who ended up being the suicide victim found with his throat and wrist cut.
    • Those flamethrowers they give the Antarctic teams sure do have a bad habit of failing at critical moments.
    • Lars is the only one of the Norwegians who can't speak English and knows where the grenades are. Sure enough, it's him at the beginning of the original film who shouts useless warnings in Norwegian at the Americans and tries to toss a grenade at the Thing.
    • Things love the chest-mouth thing they pulled on Norris.
    • Also comparing stored blood with blood samples taken from everyone. In the prequel the Thing hastily burns the lab — whereas the Thing at Outpost 31, knowing in advance that this test will likely be used on it, has the time to destroy the stored blood in a way that implicates the camp leader.
    • There is also a combination Chekhov's Gun Continuity Nod, because at the end of the 1982 film, Childs still has his earring.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Although it used a lot of animatronics and other practical effects, nearly all of them are overlaid or enhanced with CGI, making it seem at times that the movie uses no practical effects at all. The two-face Thing is a great example of this, as it was a fully-working animatronic, even when it "absorbed" someone else.
  • A Crack In The Ice: The movie opens with the Norwegians in a snowcat homing in on a Distress Signal. They discover where it's coming from when the ground opens beneath them and they become wedged in a crevasse with their headlights shining down on a Flying Saucer.
  • Cut the Juice: Once the Thing goes on its kill rampage, the lights go out and the humans have to search using hand torches.
  • Detachment Combat: An apparently unconscious Edvard is being carried off by two others when his arm drops off, scrabbles up to the face of the man carrying him and forces itself down his throat. As Edvard morphs into a monsterous form, the other arm detaches and scrabbles off. Both limbs are destroyed later, and as the Thing doesn't do this as a normal tactic it's probably a response to the body being fatally injured.
  • Distress Signal: How the Norwegians find the Flying Saucer. The signal sounds even more creepy and otherworldly than the signal in Alien.
  • Downer Ending: While the Thing is prevented from escaping in its UFO, everyone but Kate and Lars are dead. Kate's nowhere to be found when help arrives at last, and Lars goes after the last Thing (in the form of a husky). If you've seen the original film, you know what happens to him - and it fails to prevent the deaths at the American base.
  • Doomed by Canon: With the possible exception of Kate, who may have driven to the Russian station 50 miles away instead of coming back to what she believed was an empty camp, everyone is obviously going to die either before the movie begins or at the start of the next movie (Lars and his pilot).
  • The Eighties: Of course being a prequel it's set in 1982, but you honestly wouldn't be able to tell aside from maybe the hairstyles and a pop culture nod here and there. The film even throws in Kate listening to Men At Work's hit single of that year, "Who Can It Be Now" on a cassette player for good measure.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Lars' dog sits on the block of ice being towed back to base without issue, but when the block starts melting, the dog is shown whining and gnawing at the wire of its cage to get out.
  • Expositron 9000: The base computer, during the explanation of The Thing's infection and replication mechanism.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: When the Thing assimilates some of its victims via direct contact, they're aware of what's happening, and are clearly in great pain during the process. One of them, with a Thing lodged in his mouth, silently begs Kate to kill him. Another is practically melted into one of the things, then dragged off before we see the process completed, leading it to become the Two-Body Thing brought back from the Norwegian camp in the original.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Being a prequel, the ending leads to the first scene of the 1982 film.
  • Gratuitous French: A rather "suprenant exemple". The first shots show Olav trying to get a clear signal with a kind of sonar. We can see the sonar has English entries written on it, despite being used by Norwegians. But for no reason, you can also read "Sensitivité plus grand que 2 mV". Sadly, the sensitivity is "plus grande que" 2 mV.
  • Gender Flip: Kate Lloyd (Winstead) is essentially a female Expy of R.J. McReady mixed with a dash of Ripley from Alien.
  • Genre Savvy: The Thing becomes progressively more intelligent after each of its encounters. After being burned under the shed, it learns to try and isolate the cast members one by one. When it's overpowered anyway, it starts trying to sow dissent amongst the group. In addition, it shows that it's perfectly willing to sacrifice parts of itself in order to take the pressure off it. Finally, it keeps its dog form in hiding in case all of its other forms are killed.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Two-Faced Thing assimilating Sanders.
  • Hellish Copter: The Thing transforms while aboard a helicopter in flight, causing it fly out of control and crash.
  • Hope Spot: Kate and Carter have stopped the Thing from escaping, head back to the snowmobile, and are going to head for a Russian research station about fifty miles away. Then Kate notices that Sam is missing his earring...
  • Impostor Exposing Test: It's theorized that Thing blood will react when exposed to human blood, so a test is quickly created in order to see who's human or not. The Thing then sets fire to the lab, destroying the test, and forcing the humans to use a more primitive method of seeing who has dental implants or not.
    "So I'm gonna die because I floss?"
  • Idiot Ball: The Thing, after it exposes itself, can't help but to assimilate anything in its path, even when it puts it in danger. For example the Juliette-Thing stops to assimilate Karl, leaving it exposed in the hallway. Also the Carter-Thing could have easily killed Kate and simply drove to the Camp by itself, but doesn't in the interest of preserving its cover, despite Kate being clearly suspicious. Kate herself makes some bad judgement calls like ordering everyone to split up despite not being enough weapons to go around.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: Kate objects to taking a tissue sample from the ice-bound alien. Her boss reprimands her for questioning his authority in front of the others. "You're not here to think. You're here to get that thing out of the ice."
  • It Can Think: The Thing cleans up one of its murder scenes, attempts to extinguish a fire (though this may be pure luck on the Thing's part), leads Kate into a trap, and finally briefly manages to power up the ship.
  • It Was There I Swear: Kate realises the Thing has assimilated a human when she finds blood in the shower. When she goes back after the helicopter crash, the shower stall has been cleaned up. While this removes the evidence, it also tells Kate that the Thing is still among them, and wasn't just on the helicopter.
  • Jerk Ass: Dr. Sander Halvorson though of course he gets his.
  • Jump Scare: A cheap "Boo!" scare which makes the one directly following much more unexpected.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: After the Thing is fully revealed and everyone believes Kate, the expedition still ends up splitting into teams of two even after it's been made abundantly clear this is a terrible idea. It turns out that ultimately nothing bad comes of this tactic, but it was still rather careless on their part.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The flying saucer's power system shuts down after both its control system and the Thing is destroyed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If the American pilots hadn't escaped, overpowered Lars and taken over the base, the Thing probably wouldn't have had the necessary chaos to continue its spree.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Cross-Species Disease.
  • No One Could Survive That: When Carter and Derek stagger back to base after their helicopter crash, the mere fact of their survival is regarded as proof they're not human.
  • Not His Sled: The director stated there was originally a shot of a laboratory on the ship, which would have proven that the Thing is a different species than the creatures who made the ship. The original film shows that the Thing is perfectly capable of building its own ship, however.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Thing's original form is vaguely insectoid, but we never get a very good look at it.
    • It's never actually been confirmed whether that actually is its true form or just the form it had assumed while on the ship, assuming that it even has a true form.
  • Prequel: It starts three days before the events in Carpenter's film, and ends with everyone but Lars and Kate dead, and the Thing, in the shape of a husky, running across the snow, where it will eventually reach Outpost 31, and Lars will be killed.
  • Previews Pulse: This trailer has two different ones, a low one for suspense and a loud one for attack.
  • Recycled Title: In spite of being a prequel and not a remake, the film has the exact same name as the original.
  • Retcon: What the UFO looked like and its condition at the end of the film. The manner of the Split-face Thing's death.
  • Red Herring: Just like in the original film, none of the characters seemingly set up to be the Thing actually turn out to be the Thing. In fact, before the final rampage only a couple of the base personnel were actually the Thing.
  • Sound-Only Death: The protagonists hears Sanders scream as he's attacked by the Two-Faced Thing, so when they see Sanders drive off in a Snowcat, they know he's the alien and not just making a run for it.
  • Shout-Out
    • The alien bursting through a wall into the snow while on fire is from The Thing from Another World.
    • On the flying saucer, the Thing appears to be part of the wall until it moves, as per the zenomorphs in the Alien series.
  • Star Fish Aliens: In the "pilot version" of the movie, where we do get to see the alien pilot of The Thing's ship, which is probably one of the most creative sophont alien designs ever put on film.
  • Stealth Remake: Both a prequel and a veeeeeerrrrrrry subtle remake of the original.
  • Stock Sound Effects: That otherworldly distress signal is the same one sent by the Icarus I in Sunshine.
  • Super Window Jump: The Two-Faced Thing bursts through a window and attacks Carter.
  • The Unreveal:
    • While a shape can be seen inside the block of ice, we never see exactly what the thing looks like inside. What few glimpses we do get suggest that it looks like a massive, tentacled, multi-limbed insect of some kind.
      • ...assuming that's its original form.
    • Some fans theorized that the film would explain what the Thing was doing in the UFO. While we do see inside the UFO, we never get a clear answer as to what its relationship is toward the Thing. Director van Heijningen originally intended to show that the Thing was an alien sample collected by the UFO's pilots that broke free, but the subplot was cut for pacing issues.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Most if not all of the trailers for the prequel have footage that clearly shows that Griggs, Juliette, and Edvard are all assimilated and replaced by the Thing during the film. This is particularly egregious as it turns out they were the only characters that were secretly assimilated by the Thing. Also, recent television spots very briefly show Carter being lit on fire by Kate in the snowmobile at the ending of the movie.
  • Turbine Blender: Played with. Kate and Carter are walking across the hull of the spaceship when it powers up and they realise they're standing on the air intake vents, which start to flick sequentially to a vertical position. They run like hell, but Kate doesn't make it and falls screaming into the engine. She wakes up unharmed inside the spaceship, and the event only serves as an inadvertent Let's Split Up, Gang.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: During the autopsy when Henrik is found inside the alien's body, Juliette gags and runs out of the room.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't have any clue what happened to Kate at the end of the film, whether she made it to the Russian station or ended up freezing to death in the attempt. We do, however, find out that Lars and the Huskey-Thing were simply hiding while the climax took place.
    • The script reveals that Kate will freeze to death.
  • Women Are Wiser: Juliette is the only person who believes Kate when she says the alien is disguised as one of them. Subverted because she's already been assimilated and is intent on luring Kate someone quiet to do the same.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Edvard acts dazed and stunned by the Flamethrower explosion in order to get closer to two of the station workers.

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alternative title(s): The Thing 2011
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