Review: “The Crazies” (2010)

craziestimothyTimothy Olyphant is Crazy adorable

I just so happened that I watched Oscar hopeful Crazy Heart and bloody survival horror remake The Crazies in the same week. Turns out the movies shared a few similarities:

  1. They are both serviceable B movies that adhere to a tried-and-true formula.
  2. They are both set in rural dustbowls populated by a pleasant array of aw-shucksing good folk.
  3. Despite their titles, neither is particularly crazy.

For more on the Romero remake, head on through the jump…

George Romero‘s weird but overcamped 1973 The Crazies is one of those movies that was actually begging for a remake. For one, it was a good idea that was not particularly well-executed, for whatever reason (budget, filmmaking skill, etc.).  It also has a great title and, aside from a single striking iconic image (a white-suited figure in a gas mask), doesn’t really lodge in the memory of most people for any particular reason (a particularly memorable kill, a good twist, a specific performance, what-have-you).

So it’s both a bit disappointing and entirely logical that the 2010 remake has pretty much the same profile: That of a decent but ultimately unremarkable drive-in movie that will keep you entertained but won’t likely stay in your mind for very long after.

craziessonicThanks for coming to Sonic!

Much like the original (which I have seen twice and still have only very vague memories of), The Brand New Crazies tells the story of a small town that falls prey to a toxic agent that causes its citizens to go batshit nuts. As the military attempts to contain the agent (and the citizens), part of the fun is in guessing which of the survivors is infected with the cuckoobananas virus and which simply could use a good Calgon soak.

Not much is done of note to update the original film’s basic setup – which is fine, since there wasn’t anything really wrong with it. In fact, this version makes minor improvements on the original by pulling the focus off of the military (we see a lot of the thought process behind the containment in the Romero version) and keeping it squarely on the survivors. This should by all rights make the military force even scarier, but it actually doesn’t – in fact, the original’s lasting image (the white-suited hazmat guy) isn’t employed here, and the military guys don’t come off as menacing in the least.

craziesgroupIt would have been nice if images like this one had actually, you know, made it into the movie.

In the Romero film the joke seemed to be that while the “crazies” of the title were the infected townspeople, the real villains were those who caused the problem and attempted to contain it at any cost (hence the fact that in the poster THE CRAZIES is emblazoned over one of the non-infected), but in the remake they miss the mark in that regard by making the military a generic army of guys in camo.

Fortunately, The Crazies gives us something else amazing to look at – namely, lead actor Timothy Olyphant, who continues to be one of the best reasons to buy a $12 ticket working in Hollywood today (see also: my review of the tepid but Tim-tit-tastic thriller A Perfect Getaway). His performance may be nothing special (another solid job by a solid actor) but hot damn if he doesn’t make that Iowa county sheriff’s uniform look good. Costar Radha Mitchell should be careful taking roles opposite men who are so damn pretty, because she comes across a bit oafish by comparison.

Oh, and I did get a kick out of all the precious Iowa gags, being from there myself. If only our sheriff had been so delicious.

craziesolyphant

I enjoyed The Crazies, for the most part, but I didn’t find it remotely scary or even particularly interesting. There are a few impressive visuals (the image of the woman standing before the bizarrely underlit thresher is pretty sweet) and one WTF?! kill (it happens during the attack in the car wash – if you see it you’ll know what I mean), but otherwise it’s just a competent but not terribly interesting mid-budget thriller. And I actually hated a whole climactic side-plot about three infected hunters who take it upon themselves to kill hundreds of townsfolk – it’s supposed to be chilling but kind of comes off as the Blue Collar Comedy Massacre.

In all, The Crazies isn’t crazy-good, but it’s nothing to go mad about, either.

RATING (OUT OF 5):

ReviewThreeSkully

The Crazies is rated R for bloody violence, rampant aw-shucksiness, and criminal underexposure of Timothy Olyphant’s pink bits.

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Buzz created CampBlood.org in 2003 to meet a need for a safe place for weirdos of all stripes to discuss horror movies from a queer perspective. Now that the campers have overtaken the Camp staff and locked them in the Arts & Crafts cabin he is questioning that decision.