the thing (2011)

over a sweeping white panorama you can’t believe it’s not john carpenter  a spellbinding ten seconds of “am I watching the wrong movie?” before the illusion is shattered a snow cat hurdles into ice and we realize oh wait this is national treasure or tomb raider and yet the suggestion of john carpenter persists through the paranoia procedural to follow. your patience for this will hinge severely upon how good “john carpenter la croix” sounds to you. an alienating effect follows in which we recognize things but cannot quite identify them — who goes there? no answer from the formless, weightless cgi material that cocoons the proceedings in a sense of immateriality, a feeling of being tangible yet only real in fleeting glimpses of self-estrangement. we’re supposed to be in a prequel yet we repeat the events from before in a way that points not to a cycle of being stuck here but instead in a way that feels like a repetition a repetition that is uncomfortable even more present even more crisp in its early-2010s studio horror way of retreading the diffuse anxiety from a time we are rapidly forgetting yes add this to the list of unfairly derided horror reboots that people are generally right about. to include a film in this pantheon is to say very little of value about the film itself but nonetheless this movie means something to me because of its refusal to recapture anything of worth from before. it’s a film that does not learn from the past a film that disregards what anyone would want from a film called the thing this remold retreats to its impulses its predictable course of action as a survival tactic as a means of automating its processes of plugging john carpenter into an algorithm and merely following that current through the increasingly uncanny predictable path. it’s actually more strange to do new things or to return to old things once you’re not as dissociated because the surreality of the experience is given a certain veracity that can be unsettling. the knowledge that these things are real is grounded firmly in miles of ice, a vista that only says one thing; it takes on the weight of a massive being of unknowable horror entombed in an icy slab. eventually you develop better more efficient ways to maintain to survive you learn to be comfortable with algorithmic processing you adopt this as meaningful work because it is still work even if you’re not constantly thinking about it. these routines take a toll but you give yourself over to entropy you embrace it this is a tactic this is woman’s work this is seeing your friends’ bodies warp gastrointestinal silk sinews extending like piano wire taking on new grotesque forms an unknowable beauty you use every part of this body.

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