Movie Review: The Crazies


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*** 1/2 out of *****

During the 1973 début of George Romero’s, The Crazies, America was in the middle of the Watergate scandal and dealing with a loss of faith in government.

The concept of the original horror flick, in which the government accidentally unleashed a mind-altering bioweapon into a small town’s water supply, was pretty cool and original. But 37 years later, the concept is exhausted.

28 Days Later, The Host, and even Planet Terror, are just a few examples of horror movies invoking similar political commentary. And while The Crazies is entertaining, it doesn’t add much to the genre.

Still, director Breck Eisner and writers Scott Kosar and Ray Wright (with a little guidance from Night of the Living Dead director Romero) have created a horror remake that succeeds where many have failed — crafting a film that actually overshadows the original — which many probably never even saw because its limited release.

The Crazies takes place in Ogden Marsh, Iowa. Much of the film was shot in Lenox, and there is plenty of the small-town Iowa stereotype to go around (but you have to admit, much of it is true).
Mainly this constitutes numerous shots of corn fields, a mention of the Iowa Hawkeyes, and some good ol’ American baseball to entertain the audience between murders.

The story involves the outbreak of a bioweapon, code-named Trixie, in the town’s water supply. The virus transforms anyone exposed to it into lunatics within 48 hours. And of course the government’s way of containing the virus is to invade and quarantine the town, with a shoot-first, ask-questions-later policy. This is where the remake breaks from the original.

The director ditches Romero’s attempt to give us a direct look at the government’s reaction and instead focuses solely on the local sheriff’s (Timothy Olyphant) attempts to escape from the quarantined town, alongside with his pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell) and two other stragglers.

The viewer is left to piece together the governmental response, which solves some of the pacing problems from the Romero original and adds a bit of suspense, helping the movie succeed as a whole.

Instead of dwelling on every flesh wound or stabbing, the director knows when to leave the killing to the imagination of the audience, which is commendable in the days of the “torture porn” horror genre.

While The Crazies is nothing to go insane over, it is worth watching, and the film sets a strong example for directors interested in diving into the bloody sea of horror remakes.

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