There are many reasons why The Thing is considered a top-tier horror movie, but the fact that any one of the stellar character actors featured in the film could actually be the titular shape-shifting alien creature is definitely one of them. It adds an anxiety-inducing, “trust no one” element to the already claustrophobic setting until only two of our heroes remain. Even then, in the film’s final moments, we’re not sure who’s the real deal. The latest video from That Film Theory takes a deep dive on this ambiguous ending and tries to finally answer the question, “Who the hell is human at the end of The Thing?”
The answer is, of course, still unclear. While it’s easy to find evidence to suggest that either MacReady (Kurt Russell) or Childs (Keith David) were turned at some point in the film, it requires a bit of mental gymnastics to justify why they’re both so vigilant about testing their fellow researchers’ blood and blowing up the alien ship with dynamite. The most convincing case that one of the two survivors is just an alien biding its time requires a bit of behind-the-scenes knowledge.
John Carpenter’s cinematographer Dean Cundey said in an interview that he used a particular lighting technique on certain characters (adding a slight sheen to their eyes) to signify to the audience that they were human. As MacReady and Childs share a drink in the burning wreckage of the research station, only MacReady has the light in his eyes. So, case closed? Or just a case of a difficult to light scene? We should probably just watch this movie a hundred or so more times to be sure.
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