The Crazies (2010)


Hello, Hell?  Yes, this is John calling.  I had a quick question for you.  What’s the temperature like down there?  I just ask because I have an inkling that you may have frozen over.  That’s right kiddies, I am happy to say that The Crazies does not suck!  I’m not gonna lie, I had serious doubts for a while since I really dig the original.  Not to mention the fact that they chose a director who only has a career because his daddy ran Disney.  I mean have you seen his only other film, Sahara?  What a mess.  But to my surprised pleasure, The Crazies turned out to be one of the stronger mainstream horror films of late.

Keeping a similar story to that of its source material, The Crazies regales us with the tale of a small, tight knit farming community who’s drinking water becomes accidentally contaminated with a government engineered virus.  Those infected lose all control of right and wrong as they go on homicidal rampages before their bodies deteriorate.  The evil American government shows up with hazmat clad military personnel to separate the infected from the healthy.  The town’s sheriff, David, must band together with his pregnant wife, her young, sexy employee, and the deputy sheriff evade capture and make it out of the town before they too succumb to the fate of their friends and neighbors.

Alright, so I’m not going to lie, there are some serious problems going on in The Crazies.  With plot holes aplenty and characters making really ridiculous decisions, it’s easy to find fault here.  When the sheriff is trying to get back into the town to find his wife, his friend explains that everything is blocked off and the military will shoot him dead if he tries to get by.  Yet the next scene we see that he’s made it back to his station without any explanation of how he was able to get through.  And for someone who’s risked his life again and again to save his wife, he sure as hell has no problem leaving her alone quite a few times while he saunters off to investigate a strange noise. 

The filmmakers also commit the crime of serious under usage of Danielle Panabaker.  She’s present through a great majority of the film, but she appears to be just kind of there without serving much of purpose.  I got the feeling that a lot of her character’s development might have ended up on the cutting room floor for pacing reasons, which is a shame because she’s probably one of the most promising young actresses of the genre.

Despite all these problems, I was still thoroughly entertained by the fast paced, blood soaked roller coaster that the film took me on.  And you know what, if horror movie characters didn’t do dumb shit every once in a while that forced them to end up in dangerous situations then we wouldn’t have much of a movie now would we?  As I mentioned before, Breck Eisner wouldn’t have been my first choice to direct any worthwhile horror film, let alone a Romero remake, but he proved me wrong. 

Working with Director of Photography Maxime Alexandre, the man who shot all of Alexandre Aja’s films, Eisner has incorporated some beautiful imagery and tension filled frames.  While the original had a more gritty, low budget feel, this new version fits well for today’s filmmaking senses with a professional, slick look.  If there’s one thing I wish Eisner would have toned down it would be the over usage of jump scares.  Some of them are effective, while others just become redundant and annoying.

While the film is by no means a gore hound’s fantasy, there’s plenty of bloodshed brought to us by the use of some great practical effects work mixed seamlessly with what appears to be minor CG enhancements.  These scenes are pretty brutal and really heighten the tension of the already bad ass set pieces within the visually interesting locations.  While the acting is strong all across the board, it’s Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff Dutton who carries the movie.  Yes, I said Timothy Olyphant…NOT Josh Duhmal as I’ve been hearing everyone saying.  While Olyphant is known for his more cynical roles such as in The Girl Next Door and Go, he really impressed me and pulled off the hero card rather well.  Honorable mention would without a doubt go to Joe Anderson with his effective and memorable role of the deputy as well.

The Crazies reminded me a lot of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead redo.  Not only because they both feature Johnny Cash songs near the opening, but also because they both take Romero’s occasionally heavy handed social commentaries and subdued them in favor of bringing us strong, action filled popcorn flicks.  There’s nothing wrong with this since sometimes you’re just in the mood to be entertained.  Although those searching for the commentaries will still see their remnants here and find that Romero’s views on the government and their enforcement of rules on the military are still relevant to today’s society.

As a minor last note criticism, I can’t help but wish they went a little further with the actions of the crazies and made them, well, crazier.  Fans of the original will surely notice the absence of the priest lighting himself on fire, the old lady with the knitting needles, and the attempted incestuous rape.  I suppose these elements might not have flown over well in a modestly budgeted studio film, but dammit I miss them.

With plot holes and cheap jump scares, The Crazies is far from a perfect film.  But as far as sheer entertainment value goes, it hooks you in almost immediately and doesn’t let go until the final, earth shattering explosion.  There‘s nothing really new or innovative going on here, but man was it a fun ride.  Taken for what it is, it works.
With plot holes and cheap jump scares, The Crazies is far from a perfect film. But as far as sheer entertainment value goes, it hooks you in almost immediately and doesn’t let go until the final, earth shattering explosion. There‘s nothing really new or innovative going on here, but man was it a fun ride. Taken for what it is, it works.