The Crazies Review
Having a horror film succeed on nearly every level is a rare manifestation these days, yet The Crazies, which came out this past Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray, boasts beyond slick production values, is excellently acted and consistently tense. In addition to being a remake that for once does not disappoint, it joins the exclusive club of a revisit that trumps the original (and thoroughly at that). No offense to the great George A. Romero who created the minor “classic” back in 1973, but that movie was a weak effort in almost every capacity.
Director Breck Eisner's “Crazies” is moody and smart with a great sense of humor about itself. It never delves into self-seriousness, nor does it try to be overtly political. It evokes a sort of mash-up of Dawn of the Dead and Outbreak. There are some unapologetically relentless sequences propped up by unbearable tension alongside other stretches of pure adrenaline-fueled mayhem. The marriage of horror and action that worked so well in films like 28 Days/Weeks Later succeeds here as well and has enough of a personal moral stance to not seem like a cookie-cutter studio product.
In the quintessential hick town of Ogden Marsh, the small populous goes about its normal hick activities: prepare for the spring plant, attend the popular town baseball games and for one young couple, prepare for the birth of their first child. David and Judy Dutton (played superbly by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell) are the town sheriff and doctor respectively both of whom are well-liked in the close-knit township. Suddenly, strange things begin to happen. Townsfolk begin acting odd, prone to violence and murder and bodies begin to pile up. Soon, the town is in disarray and things go from bad to worse fast with the arrival of government forces who quickly cordon off the town and become more terrifying than “the crazies” themselves. With his deputy in tow, the sheriff does everything in his power to get his budding family out of hell in time.
One of many things to admire about The Crazies is it doesn't pussyfoot around. There is no dull build-up in which all key characters are given an introduction. We are thrust into the action right off the start and get to know the characters as the panic ensues. Joe Anderson as the deputy gets the most interesting character arc (again I will make a comparison to 2004's Dawn of the Dead), this time regarding the character of CJ, which one could point out a number of similarities (including a killer mustache). Radha Mitchell, who is no stranger to horror films having starred in flicks such as Rogue, Silent Hill and Pitch Black among others, is perfectly suited for the role of strong female protagonist. Olyphant, who has ample charisma, is also pitch-perfect as the compassionate but driven Sheriff. Hopefully roles such as this will get him the leading jobs he deserves.
The Crazies also benefits from having no real villain and is more a movie of circumstance than black and white, good vs. evil. The shortcomings of this film are those found in many horror movies. We get jolts of sound that accompany “boo” moments, but thankfully this is secondary to the impending sense of dread that consists of the movie's core. The very final scene is one we have witnessed so many times before and the only thing that's comes to mind as I continue to behold it is that the director does not have enough confidence in the preceding films effectiveness. Small quibbles can easily be set aside as this is one of the best horror films of the last ten years and stands as proof that if care is taken, all horror remakes don't have to make us crazy.
Directed by: Breck Eisner
Written by: Scott Kosar and Ray Wright
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Daniel Panabaker
Other Player Affinity Reviews
"You've heard it said “there must be something in the water.” Well in The Crazies
just that is making the townspeople psychotic. This short film was fast-paced and adeptly plotted and acted by its small time stars. The characters were well drawn; you get an opportunity to care about them and their fate. Most impressive was the beautifully eerie backdrop and distinctly silent scenery occasionally panned across throughout the movie. What sets it apart in the state of the genre is this horror picture is heavier on suspense and intelligence than cheap fright scenes and gore. Rating: 7/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.5/10