Movie Review: The Crazies
Unlike the majority of horror remakes we have seen in recent years, The Crazies has more to offer than amplified levels of gore and an inflated body count. And that’s not to say that it doesn’t offer its fair share of drips and splatters as well.
Timothy Olyphant might be best known as the proverbial asshole villain in movies like The Girl Next Door and Live Free or Die Hard, but he gets a chance to shine as a leading man in The Crazies. He stars as a small-town county sheriff who finds himself in a really shitty predicament when he’s forced to shoot a shotgun yielding town drunk in the middle of a high school baseball game. As it turns out, he wasn’t drunk. He was just crazy.
Olyphant’s pregnant doctor-wife (Radha Mitchell) can’t seem to explain the epidemic when several of her patients begin exhibiting some similar strange and violent behavior. The sheriff has a hunch that he’s found the culprit when he learns about a plane that has crashed in a local lake, presumably contaminating the town’s water supply.
The Crazies could easily be cast aside as just another zombie movie, but there is so much more going on here. It gives us a lot more to think about than just see zombie, run from zombie, hide from zombie, try to survive.
The military becomes involved, and it takes a while for us to figure out the government’s role in this whole mess. There are also some really good moments where we aren’t sure if one of the characters has a case of “the crazies” or if the whole predicament is making him legitimately insane. Throw in some beautiful cinematography, quality acting and one of the coolest knife-through-hand moments in movie history, and you’ve got an incredibly well-made horror flick that’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
I haven’t seen George A. Romero’s 1973 original so I’m solely judging this film on its on merits, but his presence as an executive producer for the remake might be a sign of his approval.
There are some shots in The Crazies that look like they could have been lifted from a Terrence Malick movie. That’s saying something for a film like this. Olyphant is charismatic and confident in his delivery, often bringing to mind an ass-kicking version of Billy Bob Thornton. He should be getting the types of roles that have been going to guys like Gerard Butler and Christian Bale in recent years.
For a film that avoids horror clichés so nicely, there are some scenes at the film’s climax that look all too familiar. Still, there is a lot to love about The Crazies. It not only succeeds as a ridiculously entertaining horror flick, but as a mystery/suspense thriller as it takes a while for us to figure out just what is going on in this crazy little town.
RIYL: 28 Days/Weeks Later, I Am Legend, The Fog (original).