Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker.
Written by Scott Kosar & Ray Wright.
Directed by Breck Eisner.
When I first saw George A Romero’s The Crazies back in the late ‘80s (some years after its initial release), I remember thinking that the film would one day be a good remake. It wasn’t that Romero’s original was totally crap – there was just a sense of some benefit of a larger budget, tighter script and better actors. (OK, so it was kind of crap.) Breck Eisner’s remake takes all the elements from the original and sews them together into a pretty tight viral sweater. The residents of a small Iowa town have had their water supply tainted by a military plane carrying a biological agent that has crashed into the local river. The toxin is designed to disable a population, and that’s exactly what it does to the poor folks of Ogden Marsh who begin to turn on each other with cold, murderous rage. The town is rapidly quarantined and it becomes the mission of a group of survivors to hike cross-country and get the hell out of toxic Dodge. The Crazies takes no more than a heartbeat to get started, and once it does, despite a few lapses in pace and credibility, delivers the kind of rabid, rapid horror that is missing from the genre these days. It’s nothing new, this kind of story, and the scares and the gore are as typically standard as you’d expect. But it can’t be ignored that Romero’s film was somewhat influential itself, and that Eisner’s film has simply demonstrated how this sort of movie can be done well. Forget the imitations and go back to the source of the infection. Characterisation is an important factor in any film, but especially one that plays on people’s fears. The cast are afforded decent roles to inhabit, with Olyphant as commanding as he was in Live Free Or Die Hard and in the greatest TV show ever made, Deadwood. After roles in Pitch Black, Silent Hill and Rogue, Radha Mitchell is fast becoming the modern equivalent of Linnea Quigley, although she is a much better actress than that, bringing her usual integrity to her role here. In an age of increasingly sadistic ‘torture porn’ and poor Asian horror Hollywood remakes, it’s good to see a horror film go back to basics, and in the process, satisfy my own twenty-year yearning for someone to revitalise The Crazies.
by Wadrick Jones