Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Crazies

Year: 2010
Director: Breck Eisner
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker

The Crazies is a remake of the 1973 film directed by George A. Romero, who gave us the Dead series. It's basically about a town infected by a virus that turns its inhabitants into mindless, violent psychos.

In this remake, we are introduced to the town of Ogden Marsh; not too small, filled with farms and a nice place where simple people live. One afternoon, during a baseball game at the field, a man walks onto the pitch with a rifle. Sheriff David Dutton tries to stop the man the nice way, but is eventually forced to shoot him. The man isn't mentally ill and isn't drunk as initially suspected, so it truly baffles the good sheriff.

Then one by one, more bad things happen. More people suddenly turn violent for no reason and the body count builds up. David finds out that a plane had crashed into a nearby river and its cargo may have poisoned the water supply and thus caused this epidemic. Things turn ugly when the whole town is infected, and it gets uglier when government soldiers show up to contain the situation.

Breck Eisner directs this horror thriller, and it's somewhat interesting that he also directed the underrated Matthew McConaughey adventure Sahara. The usual tricks that come with a horror flick, like loud sounds to jolt you out of your seat, nifty camera movements, bloody violence and use of certain objects to create terrifying sounds are all here. There's a scene where a psycho uses a pitchfork to kill his victims, and he drags it on the floor as he walks, thereby creating an uneasy sound that brings an impending feeling of doom, and it is very effective. Eisner succeeds in bringing the terror in spades, and at the same time not letting it overwhelm the plot. He paces it well and lets his cast play it out to the last frame.

Timothy Olyphant is commendable as the brave Sheriff David Dutton, while Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson provide good support as his wife and deputy respectively. Anderson in particular is fun to watch, as he is slightly quirky and quite the opposite of the sensible sheriff.

Now for the flaws. As entertaining as The Crazies is, it's essentially a B-grade horror flick. There is very little in this film that you haven't seen in other countless horror films. The ending is predictable, you'll know who survives and who doesn't before you get to the end, and you'll be able to guess when the next surprise is coming before it happens. The movie isn't about originality or giving its audience something cerebral (although the way the government handles the issue is a social commentary in a way), it's more about entertainment and fun by way of horror. I guess in that department, it scores.

A good pick if you like horror films, or if you need to waste 101 minutes. (3.5/5)

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