Is The Thing 2011 A Sequel Or A Remake?

“The Thing” (2011) is technically neither a sequel nor a remake, but rather a direct prequel to the 1982 film of the same name. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., “The Thing” (2011) serves as a companion piece to John Carpenter’s iconic “The Thing,” exploring the events that occurred prior to the events depicted in the original film and leaving stepping stones that will eventually tie-in and lead to the 1982 film. While the 2011 entry in the franchise shares similarities with the 1982 version, it distinguishes itself by telling a different story and offering fresh insights into the enigmatic creature that terrorizes a team of scientists stationed at a Norwegian research station in Antarctica.

The 1982 film, directed by John Carpenter, was itself a loose adaptation of the 1951 movie “The Thing from Another World,” which was based on the 1983 novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell. Over the decades, Carpenter’s film has become a cult classic, primarily known for its grotesque practical effects and overarching atmosphere of suspicion and uncertainty. The decision to create a prequel rather than a direct remake or sequel allowed the filmmakers to delve deeper into the origins of the alien creature and provide a fresh perspective on the events leading up to the 1982 story.

“The Thing” (2011) takes place in the Norwegian research facility that was discovered after its destruction in the 1982 film. The story follows a team of Norwegian scientists who stumble upon an extraterrestrial spacecraft buried deep in the Antarctic ice. They unknowingly awaken and release the ancient alien creature from its frozen prison, setting off a chain of events that lead to the terrifying events depicted in Carpenter’s film. The prequel’s narrative seamlessly connects with the original film, enhancing the overall mythos of “The Thing” while maintaining its own identity in the expansive genre of alien films.

From a stylistic standpoint, “The Thing” (2011) pays homage to Carpenter’s film. The prequel replicates the desolate Antarctic setting, the isolated research facility and the sense of paranoia and mistrust among the characters. The filmmakers made a concerted effort to recreate the visual aesthetic and atmosphere of the original, ensuring continuity in terms of tone and mood. This fidelity to the source material helps establish a strong link between the two films and maintains a consistent viewing experience for fans.

Despite these similarities, the prequel distinguishes itself by exploring new territory. It introduces a different cast of characters and offers fresh perspectives on the alien creature. The 2011 film provides valuable context and sheds light on the events that the survivors of the Norwegian team in Carpenter’s film had encountered before the arrival of Kurt Russell’s character and his crew. By expanding the narrative, the prequel deepens the mythology and enriches the overall understanding of the creature’s capabilities and motivations.

One of the notable changes in the prequel is the emphasis on scientific exploration and the consequences of human curiosity. The Norwegian scientists in the prequel are driven by a desire to uncover the truth about the alien life form, leading them to make ill-fated decisions. This thematic exploration adds a layer of complexity to the story, delving into the moral and ethical implications of scientific discovery and the inherent dangers of playing with unknown forces.

Furthermore, “The Thing” (2011) benefits from advancements in visual effects technology. While John Carpenter’s “The Thing” was celebrated for its practical effects, the prequel utilizes a combination of practical and computer generated images (CGI) effects to bring the alien creature to life. This allows for more dynamic and visually impressive creature designs, showcasing the horrifying transformations and intricate details of the Thing’s assimilation process. The updated effects enhance the terror and provide a fresh take on the creature’s capabilities, making the prequel visually distinct from its predecessor.

Nonetheless, despite the built-in fan-base that “The Thing” franchise boasts, “The Thing” (2011) was - overall - a bomb at the box office. It received mixed reviews from both film critics and audiences alike, and grossed a total of $31.5 million against a $38 million budget. Although the film did have the benefit of newer technologies at the disposal of the filmmakers, the choice of prioritizing CGI over the practical special effects that the 1982 version is most known for is one of the biggest points of contention of the 2011 film.

“The Thing” (2011) is a prequel that expands the story and mythology of John Carpenter’s classic horror film. While it pays homage to the original in terms of style and atmosphere, it distinguishes itself by offering a different narrative perspective and delving deeper into the origins and motivations of the alien creature. By exploring new territory and characters that set the stage for the 1982 film to play out, the prequel enriches the overall experience for fans while maintaining a strong connection to the iconic source material. “The Thing” (2011) ends in practically the same place that the 1982 film begins - with the Thing in an assimilated dog-form, being chased by members of the Norwegian team via helicopter, speeding across the Antarctic landscape.