“The Crazies” is what I would call a realistically based thriller. (I choose not to use the term “horror,” based on many of the films that disgrace that genre) There are no 7 foot, knife wielding ,invincible monsters running around. As it turns out, this is a remake of the 1973 George Romero flick by the same name. Not to mention, he executive produced the current incarnation, which infers there is a possibility of zombie like beings.
David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is the sheriff of a small corner of Iowa, with in striking distance of Cedar Rapids. You can’t get anymore Mid-America than that.
This movie wastes no time getting to the point. In about 4 minutes, we are treated to our first victim. The set up is simple… Something is affecting the inhabitants, causing unusual, then lethal behavior. The infected show signs of disassociation and stoic, if not zombie like, behavior. (The George Romero influence)
The source of the infection is a downed plane which carried a military biological weapon that seeped into the water supply. We are told later the contagion was being shipped to Atlanta for destruction. It’s purpose was to destabilize the population. Yep, it certainly does that.
One of the great selling points for me is the characters feel real, and they do real things. No BS running through the woods in heels, tripping, and screaming. No having sex at the scariest lake on the planet where countless others have died. David is a Sheriff, his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) is a doctor, albeit a pregnant doctor. They aren’t stupid. They investigate, process information, rationalize, and proceed accordingly. After examining the information before them, they deduce they are screwed and do what they must to survive. Survival involves not drinking the water, avoiding the infected where ever possible, and being practical. They try to get the hell out of a bad situation.
One thing that is potentially scary, is the military shows signs of intelligence. When the townspeople are being rounded up, the readily available vehicles are booted to avoid escape by anyone missed in the sweep. (I think burning them would be easier and cheaper.) There are more moments of potential wisdom, but I don’t want to give it all away!
Deputy Russell Clank (Joe Anderson) is subtle “comedy” relief. I use quotes because there is nothing truly humorous in this film. There are some moments of wit where they may snap at each other and make snide comments, but no one is trying to be stand-up comic funny. Joe gives a good performance as the troubled man on the edge trying to deal with an impossible situation.
“The Crazies” turned out to more gruesome than I expected, though I don’t think it ever crossed the line into splatterfest. I was left with some lasting visions of a near apocalypse, one of which is going through the automated car wash… The end moments dangle their metaphoric toes in the water of becoming Hollywoody, but never takes the full jump.
Simply put, I enjoyed “The Crazies.” I was startled a few times, enjoyed a twist or two, and held my breath. It is one of the better thrillers I’ve seen in some time.