Even 37 years later George A. Romero’s The Crazies is relevant. With remake after remake going into production, what differentiates Overture Films’ Breck Eisner directed redo from other Hollywood rehashes is it’s authentic look at our modern world. The Crazies truly is a sign of our times; Eisner evokes our real-life worries and fears to create nonstop tension.
The Crazies follows the town of Ogden Marsh who are hit with a biological virus and quarantined before they even know what hits ‘em. Timothy Olyphant plays Sheriff David Dutton, with his trusty Deputy sidekick Russell Clark (played by Joe Anderson), who uncover a potential outbreak in their beloved town. Before they can even scratch their head and ask, “What the f*ck?” the military blasts in and takes control of the town. Dutton is separated from his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), who was quarantined for having a high temperature. The two of them suspect that the reason is that she’s actually pregnant, not infected. From here on out the film plays out more like a chase movie than an actual horror film.
There are a lot of factors that work for The Crazies starting with Ray Wright and Scott Kosar’s screenplay that reflect on what would really happen in a situation like this. They dabble in the idea that the viewer should be rooting for the government (they’re just trying to contain a virus!), but also play on the fact that our government in irresponsible. They teeter a line and never quite push the envelope, which could have really opened the film up.
While the screenplay could have used a little more character development and breathing room, it appears that Breck Eisner was intentionally aiming at our young MTV-addicted generation. The pacing works well for those with short attention spans (that’s me!) as it’s energetic, fast-paced and quite engaging. Eisner never lets down as the audience is taken from one major set piece to another (the scope of the movie is huge).
Within each set piece the audience is dropped right in the middle of another tense situation that’s filled with shocks, twists, explosions, and more importantly, gore. While the overall story is incredibly generic, each scene finds a way to be refreshing, exciting and original.
The updated version is a well-polished and beautiful thriller thanks to High Tension DP Maxime Alexandre. He takes Eisner’s work to another level giving the film extra scope and “bigness”.
While this 2010 version of The Crazies is speaking directly to teens, the film could have done without the dozens of sound stings (OMG! Oh, it’s just Judy…. OMG! Oh, it’s just the Sheriff) and could have really thrived with some depth in the characters and their situation. But if you’re looking for a wild ride (as the idiot behind me exclaimed over and over, “Woooo, OOOOO, AHHHH!!!! WOW! Ohhhhhhh!), The Crazies carries the heavy bang of a shotgun – and more.