In the peaceful little town of Ogden Marsh, Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) prepares to watch the baseball season’s opening match.
The town’s tranquil existence is suddenly shattered though when Rory Hamill (the town drunk) wanders onto the field armed with a shotgun and shows all intention of using it. Sheriff Dutton is forced to shoot him dead and comforts himself with the fact that Hamill was being controlled by the alcohol. However, when the autopsy reveals that there was no alcohol in his blood, and other townsfolk begin to act strangely, it is clear that something is wrong. The discovery of an army plane full of toxins in the town’s reservoir offers the explanation as to why people are becoming infected but it is already too late and the government send in the military to initiate a containment process. Sheriff Dutton, accompanied by his pregnant wife, deputy and a handful of other survivors, must struggle to get out alive. But caught between the ‘Crazies’ on one side and the military on the other, will they make it?
Zombie movies have been done to death and the new abstraction of this genre comes in the form of pandemic thrillers which is probably the best description of ‘The Crazies’. To have any chance at making a good film in this field, it needs to have something different about it. Otherwise you’re left with your typical undead movie such as the upcoming ‘Legion’. Examples of good zombie and pandemic flicks are ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘28 Days Later’ and ‘Zombieland’. To all appearances, ‘The Crazies’ looked set to follow in the footsteps of these successes with the prospect of the ‘infected’ actually being living humans stripped and devoid of all feeling and emotion, and not brainless, flesh-hungry gun-fodder. Infected sociopaths with minds that can still think and comprehend their surroundings? In essence that sounds like a winning take on a new, very dangerous breed of the undead. Yet Breck Eisner (director) failed to capitalise on this unique look at the pandemic genre by simply not showing enough of the ‘Crazies’ and instead choosing to show how the military had reduced the value of human life to 0, making them just as much of a threat to the survivors.
‘The Crazies’ is certainly bound to make you jump and in some scenes, a murmur of unease rippled through the entirety of the packed cinema audience. This film offers lots of tension filled moments and more often than not the atmosphere is so thick you could cut it with a knife. These qualities are the correct ingredients of a successful horror movie.
Having said that, there are also many boring scenes, mainly of the survivors having to walk places because their mode of transport has been clamped, blown up by military helicopters or is simply occupied by the ‘Crazies’. Furthermore, whilst ‘The Crazies’ started well, it deteriorated from then on with the real threat coming mainly from the soldiers and not the infected townsfolk. Whilst promising a break-out new look at pandemic thrillers, it eventually just turned into an average movie from that genre and yet without the entertainment of mass gore and bloodshed that these sort of films usually contain.
This remake of the 1973 Romero horror-fest is quite honestly disappointing; probably due to the amount of hype it received. Whilst it looked set to be very close in relation to ’28 Days Later’, it finished up more along the lines of the very poor sequel ’28 Weeks Later’ with an ending that was almost exactly the same. Although ‘The Crazies’ is quite entertaining and worth a viewing (particularly if you are a horror fan), it is predictable and quite slow at points. The film also leaves itself open to a sequel which hopefully won’t be made for a while.