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Film / The Thing (2011)

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

The Thing is a horror film from 2011, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kristofer Hivju, and Ulrich Thomsen.

This film is a prequel/remake to John Carpenter's classic 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:

  • The '80s: Downplayed. The year is 1982, but you honestly wouldn't be able to tell aside from maybe the hairstyles and vague pop culture nod here and there. The film also attempts to throw 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.
  • 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 principle'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.
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  • Air Vent Escape: Kate temporarily escapes the alien on the spaceship by fleeing down a vent it's too big to follow. 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.
  • Alien Autopsy: After the alien that emerged from the ice is incinerated to death, Dr. Sander Halverson orders an autopsy to be done on the remains. This allows everyone present at the autopsy to discover its most recent victim at the time, Henrik, in the process of being absorbed by the creature, as well as establishing some facts that would become important later onnote .
  • Ambiguous Situation: The Thing and the saucer. It's not revealed if the Thing was the ship's maker or if it simply assimilated its original pilots like it did to the humans here. The first plan for the film was that the Thing was certainly a different lifeform that assimilated the pilots, but the director ultimately left it ambiguous just in the 1982 film.
  • And I Must Scream: You really gotta wonder what however many eons frozen beneath the Antarctic ice was like for The Thing, which displays multiple times throughout the film it is a comprehending being. Mac was right, no wonder it wakes up pissed. The first thing it does when the ice containing it has melted enough is violently explode out of it.
  • Asshole Victim: Sander Halverson.
  • Author Appeal: The producers and sfx crew Studio ADI were huge fans of the original. The producers reportedly stated that doing a remake would be "like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa." And Studio ADI were extremely enthusiastic about creating animatronics akin to Rob Bottin's, though unfortunately that didn't quite work out.
  • Badass Adorable: Kate, who is intelligent, brave, level-headed, and played by the attractive Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
  • 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. Derek 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.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: During the final confrontation with the Thing, it pulls Kate out of hiding in order to take her out and make its escape, but instead of starting to assimilate her as soon as it grabs her, the Thing decides to back up and charge at her, giving her a chance to toss a grenade at it.
  • 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.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Derek shoots Peder in the head when Peder nearly incinerates him with a flamethrower.
  • 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's Gunman: It is mentioned early on in the film that Thule Station's helicopter is being refueled at Halley Research Station. At the end of the film, it and its pilot, Matias, show up only to find the camp destroyed and Lars the only present survivor.
  • 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.
    • In the original, Garry the base commander was the biggest suspect for being The Thing. He turns out to be human, but here Edvard, Thule Station's commander, is the Thing. The Thing changes up tactics between the two films and decides to simply frame Garry rather than assimilating him.
    • In the blood test scene from the original, Palmer has an extremely matter-of-fact reaction to his blood about to be tested because he's The Thing and of course knows he will fail. In the remake, Edvard has a similar reaction to Kate's fillings test, and doesn't even bother to show her his teeth for similar reasons. Sure enough, like Palmer, Edvard is the only person in the room who actually was The Thing.
  • 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).
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Sander Halvorson though of course he gets his.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • Henrik is eaten by the original Thing and partially assimilated.
    • Griggs is assimilated by the original thing off-screen.
    • Olav is killed when the Griggs-Thing transforms in a helicopter and causes the helicopter to crash.
    • Juliette is assimilated off-screen at some point.
    • Karl is killed by the Juliette-Thing.
    • Edvard is assimilated off-screen at some point as well.
    • Peder is shot in the head by Derek when he tries to burn him and Sam.
    • Jonas is partially assimilated by Edvard-Thing's hand.
    • Derek is killed by the Edvard-Thing.
    • Adam is partially assimilated by Edvard-Thing, thus both of them become the Split-face thing.
    • Sander is assimilated by the Split-face thing.
    • Carter is assimilated by the Sander-Thing offscreen.
    • Colin commits suicide by cutting his wrists and throat at some point.
    • (This death occurs in the 1982 movie.) Lars is shot in the eye by Garry when he tries to kill the Dog-thing.
    • (This one also occurs in the 1989 movie.) Matias accidently blows himself and his helicopter up with an incendiary grenade.
  • Eaten Alive: Henrik is pulled into the Thing found in the ice.
  • 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.
  • Expy: Sander is a tribute to the The Thing from Another World's Dr. Carrington, according to the director. Both believe the Thing must be studied For Science! and refuse to understand its violent nature. The major difference is that Carrington survived his ordeal, while Sander ends up getting assimilated.
  • 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, Adam, gets his face fused with the Edvard Thing, then dragged off before we see the the thing finish assimilating him, leading it to become the split-faced Thing brought back from the Norwegian camp in the original.
  • Final Girl: Kate survives, but her fate is left unknown.
  • For Want of a Nail: An ill-timed flamethrower malfunction indirectly leads to the death of everyone except for Kate, and arguably even the events of the 1982 original. Had the flamethrower worked properly when the Edvard-Thing decided to reveal itself, then they'd have quickly been able to kill it and been forced to Mercy Kill Jonas, but the only Thing left at that stage would have been the Husky-Thing, which they'd have had a much better chance of catching with most of the personnel still alive.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Being a prequel, you know it's not going to go well for most if not everyone involved. Especially for Lars, see Downer Ending above.
  • 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.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Two-Faced Thing assimilating Sanders.
  • Hate Sink: The film makes reasonably clear that at no point are we supposed to sympathize with or like Dr. Halvorson. He's not even the Thing, not until the film's climax of course, he's just a snide, unhelpful Dr. Jerk with a fragile ego and issues with not being the person in charge.
  • Hellish Copter: The Thing transforms while aboard a helicopter in flight, causing it fly out of control and crash.
  • Hope Spot: The ending offers the slightest of slight ones - 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 his earring's missing... If Carter was telling the truth about the Russian base, Kate might survive and, even if Mac and Childs die (or one of them is the Thing), then word will get out. But if he was just taking her away in a random direction... The script for the film implies that her situation is 'hopeless,' meaning she's doomed. Then again, she's on foot in the script, while in the movie she has a vehicle.
  • 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." Why he tells the scientist he specifically brought down for this find that he doesn't want her to think is a good question.
  • Immediate Prequel: The ending to this movie is roughly minutes before the beginning of the 1982 movie.
  • 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, since Kate found out the Thing is unable to imitate inorganic material.
    "So I'm gonna die because I floss?"
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Earlier in the movie, they split up to search for The Thing after it has just escaped from the ice. Henrik is murdered by The Thing and it is implied this is when it assimilated Griggs.
  • 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.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Thing's original form within the ice block is vaguely insectoid, but we never get a very good look at it. Since it's a shapeshifter, it's probably not its "original" shape anyway, assuming it even has one. (Interestingly, it doesn't appear to be mimicking the saucer's pilot alien either if we consider canon its discarded model; maybe that was their equivalent of a husky?)
  • Oh, Crap!: The Carter-Thing when it realizes it inadvertently gave itself away as a Thing.
  • Poor Communication Kills: To admittedly sort of unjustifiable levels. Carter and Jameson just refuse to tell everyone what they did with Lars or that he's perfectly fine even after they are questioned about it multiple times and it could have helped to defuse some of the tension their escape caused. Even when Kate knows Carter is human and it's just the two of them, he still answers ambiguously when she asks him where Lars is. (Even though Lars if now one of the only people in camp left alive and they could use his help, not to mention they are essentially just abandoning him alone at the now practically destroyed camp while leaving him no realistic means of escape)
  • 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.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The saucer is still functional when the Thing sets it on, despite it crashed millenia ago.
  • 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.
    • In particular, Kate panics at one point because she is afraid Olav might be a Thing from when his face was splattered with Henrik's blood when The Thing attacked him, as this character is about to leave the station with the American helicopter crew. She is correct that someone aboard has been assimilated, but it turns out it's Griggs.
  • 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
  • Shown Their Work: The production team went through The Thing (1982) nearly frame-by-frame to piece together both an accurate recreation of the Norwegian base, and a story that incorporated every bit of damage shown onscreen.
  • Star Fish Aliens: The Thing. And not only that. In the "pilot version" of the movie, 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 Prequel: The film is both a prequel and a veeerrry subtle remake of the original. It was initially advertised as a remake until viewers saw that the plot points indicated that this took place prior to the events of the 1982 film and it's mostly confirmed by the ending.
  • 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 when it landed on Earth (or even hints as to it's "original" shape. What few glimpses we do get suggest that it looks like a massive, tentacled, multi-limbed insect of some kind.
    • 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When Edvard is exposed as an imitation, Adam makes the mistake of making a break for the door in the rec-room to escape, only for him to trip and get wounded by the thing's tentacle, and then gets violently and helplessly assimilated and dragged away before Kate can torch it, which then becomes the split-faced thing seen in the original.
  • Tragic Mistake: If Carter and Jameson had not broken out of confinement, Kate's test likely would have cleared them. Instead, they incapacitate Lars, (right up there with Kate as one of the most competent characters, and already proven to be human) and end up creating a Mexican-standoff like situation which sees Peder, Jonas, Adam, Sander, and Jameson all killed or assimilated, and finally gives The Thing its big chance to escape.
  • 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.
    • In addition to showing Henrik's death quite clearly, bits from several death scenes appear in the trailers, including those for Jonas, Adam, Olav, and Sander. The trailer also spoils that Lars will be the Norwegian rifleman from the original film.
  • 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. It's likely that the Griggs-Thing assimilates her right after, as it is with her in the hallway right before she runs off alone, presumably to the bathroom where Kate later finds the bloody shower and fillings.
  • 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, but it also has her on foot, as opposed to the film showing her with a fully-functional vehicle and plenty of fuel.
  • 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 somewhere 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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