Archive for March 25th, 2010

The Crazies

David and Judy Dutton (Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell) are happily married, they live in a small town, he is the local sheriff, she is the town doctor; they are expecting their first child.  Two local men start acting strangely, what starts as strange suddenly becomes deadly, then the sheriff makes a shocking discovery that could shed some light on the situation.  Before they know it the outbreak of the infection is far less concerning than the faceless governments attempts to contain the problem. I say faceless as they literally are, we never see the leaders and the soldiers all wear gas masks obscuring their faces.

Whilst not one of George A. Romero’s best movies, his original version of The Crazies (1973) is still an interesting and enjoyable horror thriller.  Made in the last few years of the Vietnam War the film was a critique on society and a damming indictment on the war full of symbolism such as the moment a soldiers boot crushes toy soldiers under foot.  It is hard to look at the remake without comparing it to the current world situation.  The attitude of the military or more to the point the government who control them could easily be seen as a metaphor for American policy in recent and current wars. There is one incident that mirrors a lot of peoples view that criticise the institution without criticising the individual soldiers.  Regardless of any possible meaning the new film has retained its criticism of society and sense of mass hysteria but lost its black humour, it also doesn‘t have the originals most damming scene, where a cure is lost because of stupidity. In the remake human nature is summed up in one line of dialogue.  After their wives have been taken, suspected of been infected two of the characters are talking about saving themselves versus helping their wives: “Don’t ask me why I can’t leave without my wife and I won’t ask you why you can!”

The film is largely well made with good photography and lighting, the sense of time and space is well handled, this is something that is often lacking in movies of this genre.  The acting is good especially from Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell.  The only real criticism is the film could have done with more tension and even a few more cheep scares as well as a greater sense of dread. Directed by Breck Eisner whose previous movie Sahara (2005) was enjoyable nonsense, like that film The Crazies offers nothing new but is still enjoyable. It is also worth mentioning that Timothy Olyphant is slowly developing from a bad boy character actor and TV star into a genuine leading man.

Far from a classic and lacking the social and political commentary of the original but an enjoyable enough movie that is worth a look for horror fans.

Three Stars out of Five

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