The forthcoming prequel/remake of John Carpenter’s The Thing, one of the best sci-fi horror pictures to come out of the ’80s, has caused no small amount of consternation. Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) wrote a script which is currently being rewritten by Eric Heisserer, who also worked on a rewrite of the upcoming A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. We haven’t known much about Moore and Heisserer’s approach to the story. Bloody Disgusting got a few comments about the approach and how Heisserer is ‘reverse engineering’ the story of the doomed Norwegian camp that dug up the shape-shifting alien that eventually battled Kurt Russell & Co.
From what we’re reading here, it looks like the prequel approach is still going forward. That means we’ll see the Norwegian research camp that dug up a crashed spaceship and the alien it once contained, and we’ll see that alien decimate the camp in much the same way it did an American outpost in John Carpenter’s movie.
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. 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…we’re having to reverse engineer it, so those details all matter to us ‘cause it all has to make sense.
That may be a fascinating approach as a technical exercise, but it sounds like a lousy way to make a film, especially as the outcome is pre-ordained. If Moore and Heisserer don’t have characters that are interesting, and if director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. doesn’t cast with the same ear for tone and personality as Carpenter did, it just won’t matter.
What about the rumor that Moore’s script featured the brother of Kurt Russell’s RJ MacReady? “That was certainly a character in Ronald Moore’s draft; I can’t comment on whether or not we’re going to keep that going forward.” If I may, here’s a humble and heartfelt suggestion: don’t.