In the small town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a farmer does his chores, friendly neighbors greet each other, and American flags wave peacefully outside just about every building. The town Sheriff, David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), is at the local baseball diamond to cheer on wholesome, clean-cut high school baseball team. The serene mood is interrupted when the town drunk suddenly comes walking onto the field with a loaded shotgun in his hand. David tries to reason with the man, but he is unresponsive to his words and raises his gun. David is able to raise his gun first and fires, killing the man in front of everyone.
David feels remorse for his action, and doesn't know what to say when the man's grief-stricken wife and teenage son confront him. He assumed the incident was brought on by the man's alcohol problem, but the wife insists he had been sober for two years. These opening moments intrigued me, and made me think I had stumbled upon the rare, thoughtful and character-driven horror film, but the plot speeds right on ahead, and introduces us to the Sheriff's wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell), who is the town doctor. She too has a strange incident with a despondent and unresponsive man who is brought in for an examination by the man's concerned wife. She can't see anything physically wrong with him, despite his odd behavior, and sends him home to rest. That same night, the man ends up locking his wife and young child in the closet before he sets the house on fire with them inside it. It's a chilling scene to be sure, and it would have been even more so if the film had slowed down to actually let us feel for the people these things were happening to. Instead, the plot plows on ahead once more.
Are you noticing a pattern here? The Crazies keeps on setting up interesting and terrifying situations, then just moves right on along. It'd be one thing if the movie was hurrying along to something truly interesting, but director Breck Eisner eventually settles down into a predictable series of non-stop jump scares. After the early promise, we get a fairly typical plot for this sort of film. We find out that the town's water supply has become tainted, and is turning the people slowly into mindless and murderous creatures. The military quickly swoops in and seals off the town, killing anyone on sight who shows any sign of illness. The film is a remake of a 1973 horror film by George Romero, and it feels like a remake, because you constantly feel like you've seen it all before. David and Judy try to escape from the town and the military forces with the help of David's Deputy (Joe Anderson) and a young woman from Judy's office named Becca (Danielle Panabaker). All the while, they're constantly menaced by people who have succumbed to the disease ("the crazies" of the title), who all act exactly like every single generic monster villain that's ever walked, lurched, or slithered across the silver screen.
This really had the potential to be so much more. Aside from a scene where young Becca sees her boyfriend get gunned down and incinerated by the military, we never really get a sense of the tragedy of the situation. We don't know anything about the townspeople, or who they really were before the disease hit. The script by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright starts out smart, and offers some genuine thrills. But then the whole thing goes on autopilot in the second half, and I found myself losing interest little by little, until I just didn't care anymore. The movie stops being tense and scary as well at this point. I'm tired of horror movies that rely solely on things jumping out for their scares. They don't even provide a good jolt, since we pretty much can sense a set up for an attack from a mile away.
At least I can complement the movie on a technical level. It's very well made for a film of its kind. The vast cornfields and desolate streets do give a small sense of isolation that I wish the movie was smart enough to utilize more. The cast also manage to wring out as much personality as they can out of their thinly written characters. At least none of the heroes are annoying. In movies like this, there's usually one character that you hope will get chomped by the monsters or shot by the army, but no such feelings were stirred within me here.
I tried my hardest to hold onto the early feelings of intrigue and enjoyment I felt during the first 40 minutes or so watching The Crazies. I eventually found myself wishing that Woody Harrelson's character from Zombieland would show up and liven things. If ever there was a movie that needed a guy who still knew how to have fun when modern society is collapsing all around him, it's this one.
Release Date: 26 February 2010
Genre: Action | Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Runtime: 101 min
Country: USA | United Arab Emirates
Aspect Ratio: .35 : 1 more
Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS