Based on the 1973 George A Romero original, The Crazies takes a tired premise – townsfolk turn on each other after a disease is released into the general populace – and somehow manages to craft an exciting, tense, and well made film that defies expectation.
Sheriff David Dutton (Olyphant) is your typical small-town man, who grew up in Ogden Marsh and is currently planning to raise a family there, and will probably die there. After he’s forced to shoot a local at a baseball game, however, things take a turn for the sinister, and he’s forced to go on the run with his pregnant wife Judy (Mitchell) in order to escape. Problems and complications arise when the military quarantine the town, their own biochemical agent responsible for the outbreak in the first place.
As mentioned, The Crazies is extremely tense, particularly given its B-movie leanings. The intention of the script is made evident from the outset, with an opening shot of Ogden Marsh in flames before it skips back a few days to when the outbreak occurs. Other scenes drip with pressure and stress, such as the macabre executions in the school, and the ever-worsening condition of Dutton’s deputy, Russell Clank (Anderson). Problems exist with the corny overlaid military graphics, the speed with which some supporting characters are dispatched, and inconsistency between the symptoms and manifestation of infection in order to service the screenplay.
It’s often the case with remakes that they lose something of the original that made it fun. Either the transplanted setting doesn’t work, or there are too many effects, or something else entirely. With The Crazies, however, Eisner has not only crafted a decent horror film, but also one that picks up on the divisions in modern society with an incisive edge, using the lens of the genre to reflect on how communities are tearing themselves apart and losing the traditional cohesion that made them strong, both on a small scale and an even larger one. The antagonistic attitude toward the military’s treatment of civilians is also a prescient one, and with it, The Crazies becomes a surprisingly forceful film in terms of political statement and affectation, as well as one of the better B-movies we’ve seen of late.
The Crazies is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 19 July from Momentum Pictures.
Director: Breck Eisner
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker
Price: £17.99 (DVD) £19.99 (BD)
Released: 19 July 2010