Summer Chillout: The Thing

Well, summer is officially here, and I couldn’t be sweatier.

Seriously.  It’s frickin hot around here.

There are many ways to cool down in the summer time – crank up the AC crazy high, swim, cover yourself in ice – but each of these is either expensive, requires you to be in the sun and/or around sharks, or might result in some light hypothermia.  So my favorite way to cool down is with a horror movie that reminds me of nicer (i.e., colder) times.

And my favorite movie to do this?  John Carpenter’s The Thing.

The Thing (1982) is not only my favorite movie for a summer chill session; it’s also one of my favorite horror movies period.  It’s even on my Top 20 list.

Although the movie was initially met with criticism, both it and its score are now considered classics in the movie world.  It’s even watched at British Research stations in Antarctica as part of their Midwinter celebration held on June 21.  There are so many great things going for it.

The cast is awesome.  Ultra-80’s coiffed Kurt Russell, always cool Keith David, Wilford “I have diabeetus” Brimley, and the rest of the ill-fated group of research scientists struggle to survive an attack from an other worldly being and their own paranoia, and they just make it all so believable.

The score is haunting and identifiable.  Although movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th have very recognizable themes (and good ones, too), the theme and score for this movie is probably one of my favorites.  It just sets the bleak and hopeless tone of the movie perfectly.

THE EFFECTS!  Sorry for screaming, but I freakin love the effects in this film.  I’m not totally against CGI, but practical effects are my jam.  They just look so much cooler, and the monsters in this movie, crafted by the so-talented Rob Bottin and crew, are so creepy and unique that I just can’t get over it.

I just don’t have any bad things to say about this movie.  And for a bonus, try watching the prequel released in 2011, which is definitely not a perfect movie,  but has its moments.  CGI is used pretty heavily, but I really appreciated how they tied everything together.  Watch it immediately after the 1982 movie, and you’ll see what I mean.

If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a huge favor and introduce yourself to it today.  Turn down the lights, set the AC to an acceptable temp, and just imagine yourself in the snow and ice.

It’s only a few short months away from fall and cooler temps, so keep checking back with me each week for another chillout session.

It Comes at Night…or Does It?

It Comes at Night, a film by up-and-coming director/writer Trey Edward Shults, was released on Friday, and the critical reception made this one a must watch for me.  It currently has a 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, which – for a horror movie – is rare.

I finally got to see it last night with a friend, and we both went in without any real knowledge of the plot.  I knew it was a post-apocalyptic thriller, but other than the brief (and uninformative) trailer I saw before Get Out, I had very limited exposure to anything prior to showtime.

Usually, this is a good thing.  Horror movie trailers (and most trailers, really) just give away too damn much.

I really wish I’d learned a little more about this one beforehand.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers.

The movie stars Joel Edgerton (as Paul), Carmen Ejogo (as Sarah), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (as Travis), Christopher Abbott (as Will), and Riley Keough (as Kim) as survivors of a seemingly worldwide plague that has wiped out much of mankind.  Will breaks into the home of Paul, Sarah, and Travis, and after he’s knocked out and tied to a tree for the night, he’s interrogated before Paul agrees to take him back to his wife and son and bring them back to live at the house.

There are rules for living at the house.  Everyone must go everywhere in pairs.  No one goes out at night.  And the red door stays locked all night long.

Seems easy, right?

After bringing them in, all seems to be going well until the family dog, Stanley, sees something in the forest and runs away.  The dog shows up at the house later that night, bloody and sick, and has to be put down.  Both families agree to be isolated from one another after realizing the red door had been unlocked.  By whom?  We don’t know.  Neither do they.  All they know is there might be a risk for sickness.

Paranoia increases as Will’s family discusses leaving, and Paul’s family, afraid that someone would now know where to find them, decide not to allow that.  Fearing that Will’s child is sick, Paul and Sarah mask and arm themselves to confront the other family, and all hell breaks loose, ending in the deaths of Will, Kim and their toddler son.

At the end, all is hopeless.  Paul and Sarah try to cope with what they have just done, and although the point of the isolation was to prevent any illness, Travis still comes down with it anyway and dies.  The movie ends with Paul and Sarah staring at each other across the dining room table.

Roll credits.

I understand that this is a film about hopelessness and paranoia.  It did a great job at conveying that.  I was tense.  I felt sad for the characters, especially the dog (always the dog).  I just didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to.

Throughout the whole movie, Travis has nightmares about his dead grandfather, the door, and the forest.  The forest seems to hold a lot of dread for him, as he frequently dreams about seeing something terrifying in the trees. He even draws a picture of scary things in the forest.  Stanley chases after something in the woods, and his barking is abruptly cut off when he’s out of sight.  It just seemed like it was leading up to some big reveal about what was in the woods.

Nothing.

And then the unlocked door.  Who unlocked it?  What happened there?

Nothing.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad movie, and if I had gone into it knowing the plot, I might have been fine.  But IMDb says in its description of the movie that “an unnatural threat terrorizes the world.”  To me that doesn’t say sickness, so that threw me off, too.

Should you see it?  If you go into it knowing that what comes at night is actually paranoia and there are no creepy creatures in the forest, you’ll probably enjoy it.

But maybe go to a matinee.  Save your big bucks for something else.