“Don’t ask me why I can’t leave without my wife and I won’t ask you why you can.”
The Scoop: 2010 R, directed by Breck Eisner and starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson
Tagline: Fear Thy Neighbor
Summary Capsule: It’s kind of like Outbreak crossed with Dawn of the Dead. Good times.
Justin’s Rating: Crazy is a state of mind. Also, apparently, a zip code in Iowa.
Justin’s Review: The scariest things in most horror movies are, quite simply, people. People who aren’t quite right, who are just enough off to send our inner alarms ringing. It could be a deadly sociopath with a killer smile, a reanimated corpse, a human shell that houses an alien thing, or just regular folks gone bananas.
A remake of the under-appreciated George A. Romero cult classic, The Crazies attempts to follow in the footsteps of the Dawn of the Dead remake, injecting just enough modern grit and gore to keep the crowds happy. It almost works, too — while a little uneven in spots, this tale of a town gone mad spins away from zombies and vampires to something far more freaky: good people who have every shred of morality stripped away from them.
One thing in its favor is that The Crazies doesn’t take long to get going. It begins with a simple, yet effective scene of Midwesterners doing what Midwesterners apparently do in movies aside from going to barn dances, which is flock by the hundreds to watch kids play baseball. Actually, that’s pretty creepy by itself when you consider it, and I don’t think the kids appreciate the pressure. Anyway, a man stumbles onto the field with a shotgun, clearly a little off in the head, and after one thing leads to another, the local sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) performs an execution in the infield.
It turns out that it’s not the guy’s fault — it’s not really anyone’s fault, which is the underlying tragedy of the movie. Due to a series of ironic accidents, the town’s been infected by a biological agent designed to turn normal people into heinous murderers (although, for some reason, the infected mostly don’t turn on each other). While Sheriff Howdy Doody and his deputy scramble to figure out the cause, it’s already too late: Most of the town is in the process of turning into slasher wanna-bes, and the Army is moving quick to contain it with fire and lots of it. Caught in the middle, a group of survivors lurches from one horrific scene to another, losing one or two of their members at each station, until the best-looking among them remain.
As a movie, The Crazies is fairly lean in its storytelling, which works both for and against it. I mean, I’m glad we didn’t have to wade through a good hour of foreboding and a drunken wino shouting that death is coming for them all, but it comes at the cost of simply not caring about any of the characters. Heck, I could barely tell you a character trait about the main three or four characters other than their occupation, nevermind the rest of this town. We don’t meet most of the town’s residents before they become scary pitchfork-wielding maniacs, or if we do, it’s just in brief cameos — and because of this, the impact of their conversion to the Church of Slaughterology lacks a punch.
There’s also a point in the middle of the movie where, in order to keep the main characters from realizing what’s happening BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE MUAHAHA, the entire town turns bad as a collective whole over the span of thirty minutes. It’s almost laughable when the sheriff comes out of his office to discover that everyone’s dead or killing, and yet he didn’t see or hear anything when he came back a half hour before. As the movie jogs on, we’re treated to scenes of implied slaughter and sadism that must have had the infected working overtime, because it’s far out of proportion to the time they were allotted.
This movie also makes you consider how the armed forces really would react if something like this would happen. While they’re kind of portrayed to be The Man, the Army’s actions are pretty logical and reasonable, if unfortunate. The greater good (the greater good!) and all that. So go easy on them, audiences!
While imperfect, The Crazies does sport a great atmosphere and plenty of setups that are stomach-churning to consider (especially the scene in the school). When you take normal life and overlay it with insanity and widespread murder, it’s fundamentally disturbing, and things you see every day can take on sinister new attributes.
So generally, yeah, I give you my blessing to go out and see this, as long as you’re not expecting an A game out of a solid B flick.
- If you read the graffiti on the jail cell wall, one appears to say “Romero”.
- “We’ll Meet Again,” the Johnny Cash song the film opens with is from the same album that provided “The Man Comes Around,” which was used to open for the remake of Dawn of the Dead. The album is American IV – the last one released before Cash died. “The Man Comes Around” and “We’ll Meet Again” are the opening and closing tracks, respectively.
David Dutton: Don’t ask me why I can’t leave without my wife and I won’t ask you why you can.
Becca Darling: This is really happening…
Judy Dutton: It’s gonna be alright, we’re gonna be OK.
Becca Darling: You don’t really believe that, do you?
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- The Crazies
- Dawn of the Dead