Director – Breck Eisner
Cast – Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Brett Rickaby, Preston Bailey, John Aylward
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Hollywood’s ever-growing obsession with remaking classic horror films continues in 2010. In 1973 George A. Romero, fresh off the success of Season of the Witch, gave us one the first “infected” films ever, The Crazies. This remake manages to keep a lot of the same feel from the original, including its clichés and predictability. Staying true to the original is one of the few tolerances I WILL have for a remake, because of the respect the film shows despite its blasphemy. Thankfully, this film did provide me with a positive experience that effectively shows the horrors of social breakdown and containment protocol.
The Crazies stars Timothy Olyphant(A Perfect Getaway, Hitman) as Sheriff David Dutton, a simple man maintaining law in a simple Iowa town. One day during a high school baseball game a local farmer walks onto the field welding a loaded shotgun. The sheriff tries to reason with the silent farmer, but the farmer instead tries to shoot the sheriff and winds up dead. The town is in shock, but before it can move on more and more mysterious deaths occur. A man locks his family in a closet and sets the home on fire, other similar crimes occur, and things get worse when a military presence shows up. A containment protocol has been put into place. The townsfolk are not allowed to leave the town and must all be examined to see if they have “it”. Those who do are strapped to a stretcher and taken away, those who are not are sent to a separate area. Sheriff Dutton passes the test, but his wife Judy, portrayed by Radha Mitchel(Silent Hill, Rogue, Pitch Black) does not. Unable to leave his wife, Sheriff Dutton heads back to the hospital to free her. This is only the least of his problems when the military receives new orders, and the “infected” townsfolk break loose. Social order is gone, and with two enemies to fight, Sheriff Dutton, Judy, and his deputy Russell(Joe Anderson, The Ruins) are in for one hell of a ride.
I was surprised at the horror portrayed in this film. Social breakdown is one of my favorite aspects of horror, and that element is executed properly in this film. The “infected” are able to think, which allows them the ability to loot and use weapons. With an insatiable urge to kill, they leave piles of bodies wherever they choose. With the infection having different incubation periods with different people, some do not show the symptoms right away. This leads to our characters not knowing who they can trust at a time when trust is what they need in order to survive. Boy do I love that.
The military presence adds to the horror as well, and just bleeds classic George A. Romero. His criticism of government and how they employ their military has always been apparent, and thankfully this remake touches on that quite well. I won’t go deep into detail as to the reasons behind the military deploying to the town, but it has a lot to do with biological weaponry and a government cover-up(no info if Barack Obama was behind the chaos). The containment aspect was horrific, and shows the chaos that would ensue if such things were to ever happen. Why? Because in all actuality, containment is the only way to stop such a thing. The horror is that it can be very real given the situation were to arise. Classic Romero commentary, heh. I really enjoyed that we got some character use from one of the soldiers in this flick. Normally they are just portrayed as brash and unrelenting, but we see how these soldiers were thrown into the chaos with no knowledge of what was really going on, showing that keeping your workers/soldiers in the dark is one way of controlling them. Government conspiracists, you are going to love this one.
Story-wise this film is an interesting one because it adds a nice element to the “infected” scene. We saw this a bit in 28 Weeks Later, but keep in mind the original version of The Crazies debuted in 1973, 34 years before 28 Weeks Later. The big difference is the fact that in The Crazies it is the fault of the government, not a research lab. Nonetheless, the story moves well and provides plenty of horror with it’s constantly worsening developments for our protagonists. The character use was a bit cliché, but hell, without that we would not have had a movie. Thank screenwriters Scott Kosar(The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, The Machinist, The Amittyville Horror remake) and Ray Wright(Pulse remake, Case 39), for including much of the original’s feel and lots of tension.
Director Breck Eisner did a good job for being a relatively unknown director. He included many hard to watch scenes, and never strayed away from the gore, another nice touch in the vein of the original. His pacing is well done, never leaving me bored nor uninterested in what is going on(which also was complimented by the film’s writing).
Overall, this is a positive watch that I recommend to fans of the genre, and those who enjoy the “infected” films. We get some nice social commentary, gore, and tension as this film proves to be one of the better remakes of this millennium.