US (dir. Breck Eisner)
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson
Synopsis: About the inhabitants of a small Iowa town suddenly plagued by insanity and then death after a mysterious toxin contaminates their water supply.
Review: “The Crazies” is one of those rare remakes that is, in actuality, not only good, but fucking awesome. I haven’t seen this level of awesomeness since Zack Snyder’s 2003 remake of “Dawn of the Dead”, and damn, that was one hell of a good movie. Eisner’s remake of George A. Romero’s “The Crazies” is also one hell of a good movie, and though I’ll (shamefacedly) admit that I haven’t seen Romero’s “The Crazies”, I’m fairly certain that this is a worthy remake/update/re-imagining of the original film unlike the recent crap I’ve had to sit through (“The Stepfather”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Sorority Row”, etc.).
Much like “Dawn of the Dead”, “The Crazies” is virtually non-stop action horror that moves along at a swift pace without ever losing focus and drifting off into unnecessary territory to develop a character or delve into some heavy-handed social commentary. Even the reason for the outbreak of “the crazies” (as the soldiers part of the government cover-up operation dub the victims of the biological weapon) isn’t given too much unnecessary back story. The accidental release of a toxin from a crashed military plane basically comes down to an “oops, sorry!” moment… and I quote directly from a scene where Timothy Olyphant’s sheriff character forces an answer out of a government agent:
Government agent: “Look fella, we lost a plane… Take it up with the goddamn pilot”.
Sheriff David Dutton: *Pauses for a moment. Looks at government agent. Punches out government agent.*
LMFAO! (I wish I had a screen cap of this scene, but it’s literally a split second moment).
While “The Crazies” maintains a quick and steady pace throughout while never venturing into unnecessarily drawn out scenes dedicated only to characterization, character development is by no means left to the wayside. You really grow to care about the two main characters, Judy and David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), and their relationship feels natural and never forced. There’s even a great little romantic bit that I really enjoyed where David basically asks Judy is she just wants to give up and die, because he’d sit there and die with her too. It’s total Oscar clip material, and the two play it out with such heartfelt emotion it’s actually a really touching moment.
Timothy Olyphant is phenomenal in this movie from start to finish, and honestly, can we ever expect anything less than greatness from him? He’s the kind of guy you just naturally relate to in a movie, and he’s played everything from the bad guy (“Scream 2”), to the is he/is he not a bad guy (“A Perfect Getaway”) and now the good guy. He even blesses us humble viewers with an epic knife-through-the-hand scene that is pretty fucking awesome. I mean he literally stabs a crazie with a knife that has already been stabbed through his own hand. Yup. He’s that badass.
Timmy O’s sidekick in this movie is a progressive redneck played by the equally fantastic Joe Anderson who I almost didn’t even recognize at first (this guy is such a chameleon!). He plays the cop buddy role so well, it actually reminded me of one of the major faults of another (somewhat similar) movie where a small town is invaded and a police sheriff and his deputy take control of the town: “30 Days of Night”. In “30 Days of Night”, you didn’t really get the awesome buddy cop chemistry that Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson had in “The Crazies”, and I think that was one of the major reasons its was merely a good movie and not a great one. It’s nice to see some friendly, platonic chemistry between two male lead heroes, even if it ends slightly badly (but not tragically) as it does in “The Crazies”.
One of the main controversies regarding this film is the question of whether or not to classify this movie in the zombie genre. While it has a lot of the features of a zombie film, it still has that pandemic movie feel – plus the crazies aren’t zombies in the conventional sense (i.e. that they rise from the dead). If anything, it’s more of a possession than a zombification. But to keep things simple, I’ll just admit that, yes, it’s a lot like a typical zombie film, but its definitely a pandemic movie and a fitting one considering the times we live in (swine flu, H1N1 scares, xenophobic society etc.). There’s some social commentary that’s present, but it’s not very heavy handed or preachy. It’s more like one of those “what if this happened?” type of movies instead of one of those “what if this does happen?” types where we get a character preaching about how society should change or how humans are the cause of their own downfall. In any case, it’s a fucking wicked remake and a pretty scary horror film too. Even Droopy makes a cameo appearance!
So in short, check out “The Crazies”. You most likely won’t be let down like so many horror movie remakes of the past. It’s a solid film starring bonafide hottie, Timothy Olyphant, what more could you ask for?