THE THING 2011 Review [Includes spoilers, but since you’ve seen Carpenter’s film already…]

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The Thing PosterDirected by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., 2011
Written by Eric Heisserer

No one involved with THE THING 2011 understands what the words imitate or replicate mean. There’s a moment where Mary Elizabeth Winstead, supposedly a pre-eminent paleontologist/grad student, and Eric Christian Olsen are staring down a microscope at a part-human, part-alien blood sample. In it they see two objects; a normal, circular blood platelet and what looks like a poorly rendered, undulating ball of spikes. The spike ball cell then approaches one of the platelets, attacks it, wraps itself around it and then changes its spikey shape to look like what it just ate. Meanwhile, these two academics stare at it in disbelief while stammering about how they just watched an alien cell imitate another cell. But that’s not what we the audience just saw happen.  There was no copy made. The original was consumed entirely and then replaced.

This may sound like arguing semantics about a fleeting scene, but it’s not just a discrepancy in word choice. This moment is indicative of how glazed over the entire film is. The whole thing reeks of being a studio horror movie that only exists so it can bilk a few bucks out of horror fans who rightfully put John Carpenter’s THE THING on a pedestal. And it’s not because 2011’s THE THING used the word imitate when it meant consumed and replica when it meant replaced, it’s because no one took twenty seconds to say, “Hey, wait a second, shouldn’t it be…”? Not one of the film’s five producers made a note about it. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer obviously wasn’t bothered by it. Winstead and Olsen didn’t turn to the script supervisor and ask if the line made sense. The effects team responsible for rendering the blood cells didn’t bother to actually animate a sequence that showed a cell being copied instead of devoured.

Somehow this easily-fixed piece of poor word choice made it into the final film. Now just think about how inadequately conceived the rest of the film must be if something that minor, something that could have been corrected by a two-sentence conversation, made it into the final cut AND I was withdrawn enough from the movie to notice it.

FINAL DESTINATION 5 Review: Let’s Get This Over With

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Final Destination 5 PosterDirected by Steven Quale, 2011
Written by Eric Heisserer

FINAL DESTINATION 5 is the best film in the franchise since FINAL DESTINATION 2.  This is not a compliment, it is a statistic.  Yes, Steven Quale’s film is better than the nigh unwatchable fourth entry and the barely competent third film, but improvement is not the same thing as accomplishment, it just means they fucked up less.

Let’s get the good out of the way first.  The opening death opus is fantastic.  This time the unseen grim reaper conducts his glorious opera on an under-construction bridge our core group, a handful of attractive paper company employees (here’s looking at you, David Koechner), must drive over to get to their team building retreat.  The winds kick up, the shit hit the fans and then buckets of digital blood hit the screen as people are impaled, crushed by cars, splattered by suspension cables, boiled alive by tar and cut in half by sheets of metal.  You know the score.

It’s not nearly as HOLY SHIT as the highway car crash disaster in FD2, but it is indeed a remarkable sequence that shows off some impressive special effects work all in the service of making bodies go squish that will have you wondering if this ailing franchise has finally figured out how to be interesting again.  And by the time the first survivor starts, um, un-surviving, you might even be convinced it has indeed rediscovered the magic of the first two films.  It’s simply an exceedingly well made sequence that ratchets ups the tension in palpable, edge-of-your-seat ways.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Review [A solid, scary remake, albeit a joyless one.]

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Directed by Samuel Bayer, 2010
Written by Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer

When Platinum Dunes, the production house created by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller, first came into being, it took on the father of modern horror films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s safe to say everyone expected it to be a total failure given who was involved; when it turned out that it actually wasn’t too bad of a film, fans were justifiably surprised. A few mid-level misfires later, Platinum Dunes raised their aim at iconic horror franchises even higher, bringing back TCM’s director, Marcus Nispel, to tackle Jason Voorhees. Again people weren’t expecting much, so it was another pleasant surprise that 2009’s Friday the 13th turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining, respectful recombination of the cabin-in-the-woods slasher. From there the studio didn’t even bother to go back to lesser franchises, they notched their crosshairs as high as they could go; Freddy Krueger.

Fast forward twelve months. The main thing anyone will want to know about A Nightmare on Elm Street is whether it is, at the very least, a worthy remake of the original Wes Craven film about a slain pedophile who resurrects in the dream world to kill teenagers in their sleep. The short answer is a resounding yes. Samuel Bayer’s film is the best remake in the Platinum Dunes stable; Jackie Earle Haley is an excellent successor to the original’s Robert Englund; and Freddy Krueger isn’t just scary again, he’s the most disturbing he’s ever been. The long answer is, of course, a little more complicated and requires plenty of qualifiers.

Read the rest of my review at!

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