Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson
Director: Breck Eisner
Screenwriter: Scott Kosar, Ray Wright
Rating: R for bloody violence and language
“The Crazies” is a remake of the George A. Romero horror classic of the same name. Wait, let me rephrase that to better suit the situation. “The Crazies” is yet another one of those remakes based on an already famous horror film. I can’t imagine how these remakes keep getting green-lit. I mean, the fanbase can’t be that tempting for producers to drool over the posibility of huge profits. And if it’s not the money, what is it about these ideas that drive them towards unoriginal rehashes ? Remake hate aside though, “The Crazies” isn’t all that bad aside from genre familiarity.
The overall story can be immediately and shortly summed up as follows: a small american town is plagued by an epidemic of madness, the army places the town and its inhabitants under lockdown, but a handful of survivors try to make their way out of the city after they realise the army has no intention to allow them to leave, since the virus causing all the mayhem is their doing. This adventure from hell is focused on the local sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) who is separated by the army from his pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell), and sneaks back into town to rescue her, picking up other survivors on the way and fighting their way out of town.
There’s a good side and a bad side to this movie. The good side is that it’s an effectivily chilling horror flick, well directed, decently written, tense and paranoid, violent to satisfy gore-hounds, but not enough to turn off casual audiences. The bad side is that there isn’t a single thing that hasn’t been done before, both better and worse. This is your tipical survival horror. I was surprised to find that the “crazies” don’t even make much of an impression. They’re basically zombies. They don’t eat flesh, but they kill in brutal, insane ways. The make-up is a little overdone and distracting. Something a little more subtle would have helped fuel a deeper sense of paranoia. The soldiers become the real villains of the story about half-way through. They are under orders to kill everyone, infected or not, so the survivors have to hide from both the infected and the soldiers, which is a nice touch (credit to the original film).
Much of the movie’s appeal comes from the paranoid vibe. Who is crazy and who isn’t. Are the infected any different from the “crazies” we already have among us. How can you tell if the person standing next to you carries the virus or is simply crazy. That, I guess, is part of the ‘70s paranoid thriller vibe that translates pretty well today, but somehow, it’s pretty clear the movie is more interested in the potential for carnage, allowing breaths of subliminal messages to appear only briefly. You simply go through the motions of a ride, nothing more.
In the end, it’s just another remake. It’s slightly more clever than the average remake (especially the Michael Bay-produced ones), but it won’t make any more memorable. It looks and feels polished, and I can’t imagine a director doing a better job with this story. I think they could have done better by finding a different story than the original’s. I mean the foundation is there, why not build something different, instead of the same story with different props. And this is only one of the countless remakes still to come.