With a title like “The Crazies,” I am betting someone could expect a lot of weird stuff to be going on. I mean, come on, just the idea of the word crazy brings up some pretty frightening things. From mass murders to demented clowns, crazy has become one of those words that, while probably used too much in the incorrect context, is still able to reduce you down to your worst kind of nightmares. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that here.
Directed by Breck Eisner and a remake of the 1973 film of the same name by George A. Romero, “The Crazies” is set in the quaint, quiet Iowa town of Ogden Marsh where something bad is starting to happen. Townsfolk are starting to act a little “off” and it even sends a few of them into a violent rage. Needing to get some answers, the sheriff (played, as always with just the right amount of tough guy swagger by Timothy Olyphant) and his trusty deputy (Joe Anderson) work the conveniently placed clues in order to uncover the ugly truth … something tastes a little funny with the water. From there, more people go a little crazy, the government steps in and a small team of the most likable people in town band together for survival. Let the horror ensue.
The problem with this film is that it really isn’t that scary. While the infected can be a little weird and do bad things, the majority is not so much crazy as just turning violent. I think this could be qualified into the zombie kind of genre, but the people that do get infected and get into the killing mood, still have some motive and reasoning skills and last I checked, you kind of lose that when the mind goes a little kooky. Now there were some tense moments, but everything scary was that quick jump kind of a scare and was set up so clearly by the darkness, lack of sound and any other cliché we all know, that you just kind of laugh when it happens.
Now I am not saying I didn’t like the film. Production and acting-wise, this film is very well made. Olyphant plays the tough sheriff role perfectly and a nice surprise of loyalty, humor and strength comes from his deputy Russell. The sheriff’s wife (Radha Mitchell) is just as tough as him and holds her own in times of danger so I can’t really complain about her role. The movie is not too long and paces well with a good score and solid special effects. Surprisingly, there is some great humor and good dialogue was interjected throughout so you could stay engaged pretty well, but there was just something about it that seemed a little off to me. What was it? I can’t put my finger on it … oh wait, a minute, that’s right. It’s because I’ve seen it already.
I don’t mean that I’ve seen the 1973 version of the film. Nothing is original about the way this movie is made or in how it is presented. Clearly, the director has just taken the best parts of other, better films and made something based in Iowa. A smattering of “28 Days Later” here, Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” there, throw in some Tony Scott government electronics and suddenly you have “The Crazies.” Like I said, it’s not bad, but it’s also nothing new and in the end; I think that is its greatest flaw. Which truly is a shame, since it’s clear that Eisner and Romero were going for the newest creepfest, but like the last few Romero outings, all you get is yesterdays retreads.
In the end, I think most people will like it. Like I said, it’s well made and the cast do a great job. Nothing is overly silly or ridiculous and I think anyone on a date will have fun with the jumpy scares. Probably worth a one-time showing but nothing that will stand for long in great halls of Horrordom.
3 out 5 Infected Townsfolk