27 February 2010 | TheDeadMayTasteBad
The Crazies neither drives audiences ballistic nor restores their sanity
Even outside the fact that The Crazies is actually a remake of a 1973 George A. Romero film, I have a feeling most audiences still have the "infection" flicks of the past decade still fresh on their minds. Over the past ten years, we've endured quite a few and several have even packed quite a bit of wallop (28 Days Later, Planet Terror, etc.). While I feel Breck Eisner's 2010 redux of The Crazies isn't anything new in this regard, I still found myself entertained over the course of the 100 minute runtime.
This may have something to do with the fact that I grew up in a small town in southern America not too unlike the isolated Iowa setting of the film and I can recognize the small town obsession and paranoia of larger political/governmental interests heaving themselves on the livelihood of small town folk and invading their way of living. That idea has been exaggerated in a worst-possible-scenario with The Crazies. The remoteness of the society works to the advantage of the film quite well. Perhaps even too well as some audience members may wonder where the rest of the world is when all of this is happening. The American media of all shapes and forms would have had a field day reporting over anything vaguely resembling this mess.
The direction is impressive with much attention to detail taken from behind the camera. It's especially comforting that the director didn't depend solely on violence. Eisner even cuts away from some of the more graphic "impact" moments, coincidentally making more of a psychological impact on the audience.
The film moves with brisk pace as our heroes struggle to survive the unthinkable. Eisner, like Romero, is astute at making Hazmat suits and the traditional gas mask into terrifying images. The very presence of such an image confronting you effectively sends a feeling of utter helplessness into the audience—as if you are caught in the middle of something far beyond your control. Our central characters seem vulnerable and "exposed" at every turn as a result while scary military men in full bio-garb follow close at their heels.
There are some issues that prevented me from loving the film, though. The script could have used a little work as plot holes were easily noticeable and characters were either very thinly developed or, at times, made ridiculous decisions. Like another recent "zombie" film, Zombieland, occasional over-the-top actions of some of the characters seemed out of place. There is very little, to no, character development in the film and most of the roles are simply caricatures we've seen in countless other movies. Thankfully Timothy Olyphant (whom has been on my radar since Deadwood), Radha Mitchell (who's becoming somewhat of a scream queen, isn't she?), and a surprising performance from Joe Anderson add credibility to such events.
Many twists and turns the film takes aren't very surprising, but The Crazies manages to keeps atmosphere flowing throughout most of the films scenes. While protagonists investigating barns and being captured by increasingly menacing foes becomes rather monotonous towards the films conclusion, the film just manages to get away while not overstaying it's welcome.
Eisner is apparently in the mood for more of this horror remake mayhem since he's already in discussions to potentially direct remakes of The Brood and Creature from the Black Lagoon. As for The Crazies, this venture does its original quite a bit more justice than many of the others we've received as of late. For a visually pleasing and entertaining horror movie, The Crazies neither drives audiences ballistic nor restores their sanity.
Related Recommendations: 28 Days/Weeks Later, Children of the Corn, rec, Quarantine, Planet Terror, Dawn of the Dead, Carriers, The Stand, The Crazies (1973)