The Thing ★★★★

I would like to preface this review with an acknowledgement that my character is inherently flawed as a result of the fact that it's taken me this long to watch The Thing.

That aside - jheee.

I find that when writing a screenplay often an idea can sprout: a theme, a semantic, a character, a setting; but what's really hard is constructing a clear yet intriguing goal to propel the story forward and where I think Halloween lacks this, The Thing makes up for it ten times over.

What's so ingenious and special about the screenplay is that the goal is never clear, yet the audience understands the motives. One could have easily hinged on dramatic irony, exposition or prologue to spawn the tension of the film and create adequate results, but where The Thing excels where others just finish is in Bill Lancaster's ability to ease information onto the audience whilst maintaining the mystery, right until the very end. The delineation of on and off-screen action is some extraordinary decision making and Carpenter knows precisely when to cut to the next character interaction to make sure no scene feels unwarranted.

I do find the third act to somewhat pale in comparison to the slow-burning, paranoid tension of the film up until then. It kind of feels like a 'road back' step and I'm never a big fan of this narrative technique. A similar thing happens in Speed, where the high-octane action you've been so keen to see climax does so, but then something else happens and the movie has to start up again. I always find it hard to get gassed about the climax of a film if I've already had a really satisfying one, because if I'm happy with what I have I don't want any more. I suppose that works as a backhanded compliment, in the fact that the film could have ended 20 minutes prematurely and I wouldn't have noticed, but also why then have the extra 20 minutes? The third act doesn't work as well for me because it's the first time the audience is shown, for definite, who we should be worried about. So from then on I'm just waiting around for the good guys to kill him, there's no mystery it's just time filling. The Thing does get away with it because of its production value and unchallenged practical effects, but if we look at this purely based on its screenplay the ending is nowhere near as satisfying as what results of the blood-testing sequence.

It is however, undoubtedly a film that's unparalleled in most aspects and well deserving of it's classic and cult status. It's a blast.

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