Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review: The Crazies

You're in Iowa, not Mexico, but you still don't want to drink the water. After a plane carrying a new biological weapon called Trixie crashes in the Iowa bayous (yeah, I didn't realize Iowa had such swamps either), the residents of Ogden Marsh start acting downright, well, crazy.

Poor Rory, his house sits first in line to receive the drinking water that meanders from the swamps and he ends up showing up at a Little League game carrying a shotgun. Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is forced to shoot him when Rory pulls the shotgun on him, but that's only just the beginning of The Crazies.

After Bill burns down his house after locking his wife an young son in a hall closet, Dutton; his wife, the town doctor (Radha Mitchell); and Deputy Clark (Joe Anderson, in a bit of very good supporting acting) have a heckuva time trying to survive a town of murderous zombies and a government intent on containing the spread of the contamination.

I'd never seen the original 1973 George Romero movie of the same name, but I understand it's something of a cult classic. It wasn't necessary though, since director Breck Eisner did a capable job of setting a mood and creating enough suspense (and a few jumpy scares). To a certain extent The Crazies didn't tread much new ground here, but it was entertaining enough and the acting was actually very good that I didn't find myself wondering at any point when it was going to be over.

There was enough gore to slake my thirst for it -- the school principal plunging the pitchfork into the chests of several patients tied down on gurneys was perhaps the most graphic part -- yet it was handled well and worked within the confines of the movie's "reality."

The ending was by no means happy, but it leaves open the possibility for a sequel. And from what I understand, one is being planned, particularly in light of the strong box office the movie enjoyed on its opening weekend and the good reviews it has gotten.

When you sit back and think about the movie, it's as I said, not particularly new ground being dug up. What makes it a good movie memorable is the acting. Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson turn in excellent performances, completely believable, particularly as you wonder whether Deputy Clark is infected. Since there's a 48-hour incubation period and Clark's actions at times seem erratic, though perfectly understandable given the circumstances, the crescendo builds throughout.

Surprisingly, these are characters you end up caring about, which apparently is a very difficult thing to achieve in horror films these days. All too often the characters are cardboard archetypes and you know almost exactly the order everyone will be killed, and why. Not so with The Crazies. These are distinct personalities with depth that you want to survive, but know in the end not everyone will.

As a result, I give the movie 4 tombstones out of 5.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */