The Thing is a 2011 science fiction horror film directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., written by Eric Heisserer, and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton. It is a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name. The events of Matthijs's film take place directly before those of the original film, with the Norwegian party that discovered the alien.
In 1982, paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited by scientists Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) and his assistant Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) to join a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across a crashed extraterrestrial spaceship buried beneath the ice of Antarctica. They discover the frozen corpse of a creature that seems to have briefly survived the crash 100,000 years ago.
After the creature is transported back to base in a block of ice, Dr. Sander orders them to retrieve a tissue sample, against Kate's protests. Later, while the others celebrate, co-pilot Derek (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) sees the creature escape from the block of ice. The team splits up into groups to search for the alien. Olav (Jan Gunnar Roise) and Henrik (Jo Adrian Haavind) discover it hiding under one of the buildings. The Thing grabs Henrik and pulls him into its body. The others converge on the scene and set the creature on fire. In the chaotic aftermath, the lone dog of the team is found dead in a bloody heap in its kennel, a massive hole torn in the wire mesh.
During an autopsy, Kate and Adam discover that the cells of the Thing appear to be absorbing and imitating Henrik's cells. Meanwhile, Derek, pilot Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton), Griggs (Paul Braunstein), and Olav prepare to leave the base in the only helicopter to bring back help. Just as they prepare to take off, Kate discovers bloody, discarded metal tooth fillings and large amounts of blood in the showers. She runs outside to flag down the departing helicopter, fearing the Thing may have imitated someone on board. When Carter decides to land, Griggs reveals himself as the thing attacks Olav, causing the helicopter to spin wildly out of control and crash in the mountains, presumably killing all on board.
In the rec room, Kate tells the other scientists her theory on the nature of the creature: It is perfectly capable of imitating any life form and that it may have done so with members of their camp, but cannot imitate inorganic material much as metal, hence why it spit out the tooth fillings. Most of the team members either do not believe her or accuse her to turning them against each other out of paranoia. After everyone else leaves, Juliette (Kim Bubbs) tells Kate that she believes her and that she saw Colin (Jonathan Walker) leave the shower holding a towel. Juliette tells Kate that she knows where they keep the vehicle keys, and that they can take them to prevent anyone else from leaving; however, when the two go to retrieve them, Juliette transforms and attempts to kill Kate. As Kate flees, she runs past Karl (Carsten Bjornlund), who is too slow to act and is killed by the Juliette-Thing. Lars (Jørgen Langhelle) arrives with a flamethrower and burns the Thing as it assimilates Karl.
As they burn the remains outside, Carter and Derek, now revealed to be alive, but half-frozen, stumbling into the base. While some of the team believes they are Things and should be burned, Kate convinces them to simply lock them up until a test can be prepared. Adam and Sander are in the lab preparing a potential test, but when both leave for a short while, the lab is engulfed in flames in an apparent sabotage. Tensions rise as accusations by both the Norwegians and the Americans are made, but Kate proposes another, much simpler test to single out those who might be the Thing from those who aren't. She uses a flashlight to inspect the teeth of all the other team members to see who has fillings and who doesn't. This test singles out Adam, Dr. Sander, station commander Edvard (Trond Espen Seim), and Colin. Peder (Stig Henrik Hoff) sends Lars and Jonas (Kristofer Hivju) out to bring back Carter and Derek, but they have tunneled out of the floor of the storage shed and into a neighboring building. When Lars leans in the doorway of the other building, he is suddenly pulled inside. Jonas runs back pleads with Peder to help him rescue Lars, but Kate orders him to guard the potential Things.
During the argument, Carter and Derek force their way inside, armed with Lars' flamethrower. Edvard pushes Peder to burn both of them, assuming that they have killed Lars. When Peder takes aim, Derek shoots him dead in self-defense with Lars' gun, but also punctures his fuel tank, causing an explosion that knocks Edvard unconscious. While Edvard is being carried back to the rec room, he awakens and transforms into the Thing. He infects Jonas, kills Derek, and assimilates Adam while Sander and Colin flee. After torching Jonas and Derek, Carter and Kate head off to hunt it down. The Thing, which is now in the form of a creature with the faces of both Edvard and Adam, ambushes and attacks Dr. Sander. The monster manages to separate Carter from Kate and traps him in the kitchen. Just as it is about to kill him, Kate arrives and torches the monster.
Kate and Carter see Sander, who was infected by the creature, driving off in one of the Snowcats and give chase in the remaining vehicle. They follow it out to the wreck of its ship, which has been opened up and restarted, slowly preparing to take off. Kate and Carter are separated once again and Kate encounters the Thing. She barely manages to stay out of its reach, and when it finally catches her, she destroys it with a grenade. She and Carter escape and make it back to the Snowcat. As they are prepare to leave, Kate notices that Carter is missing his left ear piercing and determines that he is one of those Things. Carter points to his wrong ear. Kate then burns him, during which he screams like an alien, proving Kate's determination correct. Kate slowly climbs into the remaining Snowcat and stares blankly into the night.
The next morning, a Norwegian helicopter pilot, Matias (Ole Martin Aune Nilsen), arrives at the Norwegian camp and finds the facility burned and deserted, as well as the charred remains of the two-faced Thing. He shouts, looking for any survivors. It is revealed that Colin went into the radio room and committed suicide by slitting his wrists and throat to ensure the thing could never get to him. Lars, now revealed to have survived uninfected hiding in the building where Derek and Carter attacked him, shoots at Matias but recognizes that he is human after ordering him at gunpoint to show him his tooth fillings to prove it. At that moment, the Thing in the form of Lars' deceased dog bolts out of a ruined building and runs away. Lars realizes that it's the Thing and fires at it, then orders Matias to take off in pursuit. While Matias pilots the helicopter, Lars begins shooting at the animal from the helicopter, thus directly leading into the beginning of John Carpenter's The Thing.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Dr. Kate Lloyd
- Joel Edgerton - Sam Carter
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje - Derek Jameson
- Eric Christian Olsen - Adam Finch
- Paul Braunstein - Griggs
- Ulrich Thomsen - Dr. Sander Halvorson
- Jonathan Walker - Colin
- Kim Bubbs - Juliette
- Stig Henrik Hoff - Peder
- Trond Espen Seim - Edvard Wolner
- Carsten Bjørnlund - Karl
- Jørgen Langhelle - Lars
- Jan Gunnar Røise - Olav
- Kristofer Hivju - Jonas
- Ole Martin Aune Nilsen - Matias
- Jo Adrian Haavind - Henrik Larsen
- Michael Brown - Security Guard
- Where the 1982 film The Thing refrigerated the set to produce breath misting, the breath of the characters in the 2011 film was added in post-production using CGI.
- Several things from this film can be seen in the John Carpenter film when MacReady and Copper investigate the Norwegian camp; these include the unburied wreckage of the UFO the Thing arrived in, the burnt corpse of the Split Face Thing, the block of ice the original Thing was frozen in, the frozen corpse of Colin, and the axe that was left stuck in a wall by Sam Carter.