The Thing



Gory remake of two scary classics lacks their bite.
  • Review Date: October 14, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The characters suddenly mistrust one another and are willing to take drastic steps -- i.e. commit murder -- at even the faintest suspicion. Despite their close quarters, there's generally a lack of community among them.

Positive role models

A strong female character takes charge for a little while, but even she shows signs of mistrust, suspicion, and selfishness.


Very strong, gory special effects. Since the monster is able to copy humans, viewers see characters' faces and bodies ripping apart in odd directions, with teeth and tendrils bursting from within. There are terrifying mutations of human and beast (one with two upside-down heads stuck together). Also, humans shoot everything that moves with guns and flamethrowers. Lots of blood on display, as well as charred ruins of alien bodies and even a gory, gooey alien autopsy scene. 


No sex, nudity, or sexual situations, but the movie starts with a character telling very filthy joke involving a young boy and sex.


"F--k" is used a few times, as well as "s--t." Other words include "a--hole," "hell," "damn," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "oh my God," and "goddamn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The adult characters celebrate by drinking beer and liquor after first finding the creature.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Thing -- which takes place slightly before the events of 1982's The Thing and includes some of the same events as the original 1951 movie The Thing from Another World -- has lots of strong, gory visual effects with terrifying mutations between humans and aliens. Humans' faces suddenly split apart, with teeth and tendrils bursting from within, and there's lots of shooting and even a gooey alien autopsy. Language is strong (including "f--k" and "s--t") but not constant. Sex scenes aren't an issue, but one character does tell a very dirty sex joke involving a young boy.

What's the story?

When a spaceship is discovered buried in the ice in Antarctica, Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) summons top paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to help investigate. The reason? There's a survivor, a creepy, dark shape frozen in ice a short distance away from the ship. Kate joins several Norwegian researchers in studying the beast, but before anyone can get down to business, the creature gets loose. Worse, Kate soon discovers that it has the ability to perfectly mimic human beings. Not knowing who to trust, Kate soon comes to a hard decision: No one must leave the site alive.

Is it any good?


Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World (1951) -- based, like this movie, on a short story by John W. Campbell Jr. -- used a particular, unique style to establish characters and build suspense. John Carpenter's brilliant remake The Thing (1982) managed to be truly frightening while playing with a subtle social and political commentary. But this "premake" -- directed by first timer Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. -- feels like nothing more than a marketing ploy, a move to cash in on a familiar brand with no further attempt to make it relevant.

The movie's visual effects, a combination of digital and latex, look good and manage to copy Rob Bottin's groundbreaking work from the 1982 movie. And by virtue of copying, the new movie manages to re-capture some of the same terrifying human/creature hybrids that caused such chills before. This movie also uses locations and timing to similar effect, but eventually it runs out of steam, forgetting all about the paranoia theme and ignoring any other potentially interesting themes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's gory violence. What was your reaction? Do you think that's what the filmmakers intended?

  • Is the movie scary? What made it scary? In general, what's scarier -- the things you see, or the things you don't?

  • One of the movie's themes is trust. Do you think you would have put more trust in the other characters? Is there any danger in trusting someone in real life?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 14, 2011
DVD release date:January 31, 2012
Cast:Joel Edgerton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ulrich Thomsen
Director:Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language

This review of The Thing was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byProsaiche October 14, 2011

Bloodtests arent needed for this awesome film.

It was a VERY great Prequel. DO NOT watch unless you've seen the original "The Thing". It definitely has violence in it, but not as bad as some movies (Aliens). Little bits and pieces of language, but again, not as bad as some movies. Overall, though- on on and more on for 10+.
Teen, 16 years old Written byroyron October 28, 2011


Not scary at all.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Teen, 15 years old Written bySquishy197 January 1, 2013

Great prequel!

First thing I must mention is that most The Thing is most made up of robots (yes, practical effects) not CGI. CGI was only used to enhance it etc. But then again I really enjoyed this film! The only negative thing I have to say is that the trailer revealed to much of the film. You see at least 3 people who are turning into The Thing which kinda gives a lot of it away as what makes this scary is the paranoia. Who is infected? It's quite bloody but not as much as the original one. No point explaining profanity as pretty much every horror film is going to have someone swearing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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