The Crazies (2010)

The Crazies is a brutal, enjoyable, cunningly nihilistic film, but it is derivative of the genre and sadly predictable.

Something is wrong with the residents of Ogden Marsh. The doctor’s noticed it, the town sheriff’s noticed it, the family burnt alive by their insane dad has certainly noticed it. And the army has noticed it, and will do anything to stop this madness from spreading. Anything.

The Crazies really is that simple. An extremely dangerous virus has infected a small American town and the non-infected few are forced to fight back against neighbour, friend, family and the U.S. Army. Even the “why?” question behind the infection’s origins are answered within the first five minutes, paving the way for one long string of violent attacks and hiding-from-the-crazies moments.

Timothy Olyphant is our hero, Sheriff David Dutton, a no-nonsense good guy with a pregnant doctor wife (Radha Mitchell) and a loyal deputy (Joe Anderson). Olyphant plays Sheriff Dutton sympathetically and with his usual charisma, proving himself adept at playing the likeable protagonist. Radha Mitchell fails to evoke anything but the rolling of eyes as she blunders into danger every five minutes. The majority of the extras casting is touched with characters who make enough impact to be noticed later, when they’re less neighbourly and more psychotic. These characters are functional but necessary, which also reflects the script work.

Writer Scott Kosar created the screenplays for remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, while co-writer Ray Wright wrote Case 39 and Pulse, and the resultant script for The Crazies is expectedly perfunctory and ticks all the necessary cliché boxes. Yet The Crazies is not trying to be vastly inventive (director Breck Eisner’s most notable film to date was Indy rip-off Sahara). As a remake of George A. Romero’s 1973 original, the creators already knew it lacked innovation, so they stuck to creating a swift, brutal, enjoyable film. And it works.

The Crazies is extremely violent. Although it is a fifteen certificate in the UK, the death-toll is humungous, mostly thanks to the application of a lot of bullets, God bless America. There are other non gun-related deaths though, notably a nasty pitchfork incident and a painful knife-in-the-throat moment, which certifies Timothy Olyphant as being “totally bad ass”. It does feel that the creators of the remake could have been more inventive, however, as a town full of nutcases can’t all own guns. The action is constant, though, with explosions, firefights and car crashes throughout – all well directed by Eisner. For sheer entertainment value, The Crazies will please even the most hyperactive horror-hound.

What it does with violence, however, it lacks in tension for the most part. There is the occasional nail-biting exception, but The Crazies never truly scares or challenges, it simply entertains. Perhaps the most interesting element in The Crazies is Deputy Clark’s possible descent into insanity, played with excellent subtlety by Joe Anderson, whose increased agitation could be stress… or something a lot more infectious. This is not explored in any other characters, and the way the infection works is baffling.

Is the infection water based? Is it airborn? Why does it make some people sing or laugh, while others just stop speaking altogether? How come some people act aggressively but are basically coherent? It’s not explained, and perhaps it’s not necessary. The audience is here for the carnage, and they receive it in bucket-loads.

The Crazies is a good film. It is not exceptional as it’s too predictable but it’s not boring as it’s constantly visceral. Blood, bullets, fire, explosions, stabbing, clichés and a vomiting of unoriginality – The Crazies is a derivative but enjoyable horror film.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

One Comment on “The Crazies”

  1. Rag says:

    I was ultimately disappointed by this film. I saw the trailers and sat down expecting a new twist, but ultimately a classic Romero zombie flick. Yes, there was tension, there was fear, there was death and destruction. But I wanted more.

    I wanted hordes of the ‘undead’ shambling or running across the panoramic scenes. I didn’t get ‘em.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s a pretty good film. And it’s always nice to see a new spin on an old genre. What they did, they did very well. But I wanted both quality and quantity. Sadly the quantity was lacking. And did I manage to sleep through the girl in the gas mask? That could have been a marginal save.

    Worth borowing of a mate. But if you have to pay to watch it, just watch 28 Days Later again.

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