‘Thing’ Prequel: The Horrifying Casting Call

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Spoiler TV got ahold of the casting call for Matthijs Van Heijningen’s prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, and be warned: It gives away almost the entire movie – chiefly who falls victim to the alien force and who doesn’t. It’s actually rather comical in its specificity, but I guess if you’re an actor going into a film audition, you probably need to know if you’re going to wind up playing an alien parasite.

This whole project’s been fun to follow. A little while back, Bloody Disgusting interviewed Eric Heisserer about his script, and Heisserer talked about the obsessive repeat Thing viewings required by both him and the producers, to ensure the prequel crew got the doomed Norwegian Antarctica camp just right:

“It’s a really fascinating way to construct a story because were doing it by autopsy, by examining very, very closely everything we know about the Norwegian camp and about the events that happened there from photos and video footage that’s recovered,” he continues, “from a visit to the base, the director, producer and I have gone through it countless times marking, you know, there’s a fire axe in the door, we have to account for that…were having to reverse engineer it, so those details all matter to us ‘cause it all has to make sense...read more

The casting call that hit the web shines yet more light on the particulars of this origins tale. In describing the lead character, an American named Kate Lloyd, the filmmakers say:

Kate is tapped for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by Dr. Sander Halvorson to join his research team in Antarctica, where an extraordinary discovery has been made. Upon arrival, Kate soon finds herself at odds with Halvorson about how best to proceed with the discovery — an alien spaceship with a mysterious and sinister frozen THING found nearby — specifically whether to transfer the specimen undisturbed to a more appropriate facility for analysis, or, per Halvorson’s wishes, to drill into the specimen’s ice encasement for a definitive tissue sample…read more

Now I know that many fans of The Thing love Carpenter’s film precisely because we’re dropped onto the frozen continent without a real sense of what’s going on here. Kurt Russell and crew check out the fiery remains of the Norwegian research station, and the remoteness of it all points to an interstellar calamity at the edge of the world that goes all but unnoticed by the human species.

The fun of The Thing was trying to figure out how the “thing” operated – what laws of physics guided its behavior. But since we’ve already learned all that, the prequel needs to have some more fun with the point of first contact – the awesome responsibility that comes with being the first human beings to come in contact with an extraterrestrial force.

If Heijningen does that well enough, maybe it won’t quite matter that we already know how the whole adventure ends. Rather than obsessing over the thing, we can get wrapped up in the act of discovery and the exhilaration of first contact. Not to mention the first victim.

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