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Movie Review - 'The Crazies'

The Crazies

Starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell
Directed by Breck Eisner
Rated R

craziesposter.jpg Two days ago, Ogden Marsh was just a township of 1,260 people in the middle of Iowa. Nobody noticed it, and it was content to let the outside world and its four-lane highways and designer coffees roll on by. But then, Rory Hamill walked onto the baseball field with a shotgun, and there was only one thing Sheriff Dutton could do.

In the 48 hours since, Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) has seen three more bodies, two the wife and son of a killer now locked up in his jail and the other a drowned military pilot out in the river. But where's his plane? And why did he crash in Ogden Marsh?

The remake of George Romero's 1973 flick The Crazies is a no-frills thriller. It's not exactly a zombie movie, even though that's what the Crazies are, in a sense. It's not a horror movie even though there's plenty of blood. But no matter what category you want to put it in, this is claustrophobic, smarter than it needs to be, and a pretty fun ride.

Once Dutton realizes that these incidents - Rory, the pilot, the killer in lock-up - aren't isolated cases, he tries to plead with his wife (Radha Mitchell), the town's only doctor, to get out of town. Find somewhere safe, like with her parents in Cedar Rapids. He suspects that something has contaminated the water supply, and it's only a matter of time before the entire town is effected. But he doesn't know the half of it.

The lawman and the doctor brave everything together, flanking themselves with the town's low-rent deputy (Joe Anderson) and the doctor's receptionist (Danielle Panabaker), andThe Crazies soon becomes like every other movie where a small group of people are running for their lives (OK, not The Happening), at least where it matters to move the story along. We don't know all the details and neither do they, there are close calls here and there, and it's obvious that not everybody in the group is going to make it to the closing credits.

Those are simply the rules and this film follows them just fine. There are also the rules of this particular story, and there's not a thing that happens that feels terribly out of place. Most of the scenes are brief and designed to get you to the big payoff, and it's a wonder more thrillers and horror movies don't do it this way.

The most logical comparison to make, if you want to, is the remake of Dawn of the Dead from several years ago. Similarly, it's a George Romero remake that tightened up the story. That movie had a better script and better direction, and one of the best beginning sequences you could hope for in a genre picture. The Crazies is a step down, but it's also never as out there as Dead becomes late in the game. In that world, the further from reality it goes, the more entertaining movie it becomes, but in this one, it would wreck things.

Breck Eisner (Sahara) keeps his movie on a short leash, and should be commended for not falling into the trap of making this spin so wildly out of control that it would feel like one gory beheading piled on top of another.

But if I had one complaint, it's that the action seems a touch too measured across the board for a movie called The Crazies. It could benefit from one big, unpredictable shock about 45 minutes in. Otherwise, he's using exactly the right approach.

His casting is terrific: Olyphant and Mitchell may not be Oscar winners, but they have played in this environment before and they know what's expected of them. They're the right actors for the job.

The Crazies isn't a terrific movie, but it's very solid and should do right by fans of the genre. They might want more blood, but this is enough. They might want more action, but what they get suffices. It's a by-the-book potboiler, one which clearly had its sights set on being exactly that.

Reader Comments (4)

Its kind of interesting you comparing this to Dawn of the Dead. I've been telling my friends that this movie was going to probably be comparable to Dead. Watching the previews i got this sense that the oppening sequence was going to be the shotgun at the baseball park and i can only hope it takes off with that scene the way dead took off at the beginning. I remember seeing Dawn of the dead opening weekend and me and my friends just looked at each other in shock after the opening sequence. That is still one of my favorite horror movies of recent years, that and the 1st Scream. We are going to see the crazies on sunday and i'm completely stoked after this review.

Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHonz Brix

I think this movie deserves a lot of credit for having one of the most creative stabbing deaths I've ever seen in a movie.

You are right - it doesn't reinvent the wheel or anything, but it is a perfectly enjoyable film. I was glad I gave it a chance last night.

Sunday, February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoel Murphy

I loved this movie
It was the first movie Ive been scared about in a long time. I was so excited wen my best friend and boyfriend said that we were going to watch this movie I was really good

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Schulte


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7tavern Team

Friday, March 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter7tavernadmin

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