Crazies, The (2010)

The Crazies (2010)Reviewed by Nomad

Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson

Directed by Breck Eisner

Imagine this. You live in a quiet little town where everyone knows you, and by default you know everyone’s business. The people are generally friendly and pleasant. The streets are clean and safe. Most folks don’t even lock their doors at night. On Sunday afternoon the kids play baseball next to the high school, and everyone comes out to watch since there’s not much else to do. You step away for a moment and look back at the assembled crowd. You see those familiar smiling faces cheering for their sons and daughters, but one face stands out.

That man who runs the hardware store on the edge of Main Street looks troubled. He stares off at some unseen object, regarding it with equal parts confusion, annoyance, and fear. As you approach to make sure everything is okay, you call his name. He doesn’t respond. When he finally does snap to attention, you are not greeted warmly as you would expect from a man you’ve known all your life. Instead, he cocks his head slightly and in one fluid, deliberate movement raises the gun he’s been hiding in his jacket. All at once, this Norman Rockwell painting comes crashing down around you. If this gentle man could snap with no warning, then anyone could. Reason gives way to chaos as an unseen force takes hold of sanity. It’s amazing how the world can go to hell in just one day.

The Crazies (2009)David Dutton (Olyphant) is the sheriff of such a town, where the most exciting thing he’s got to handle is a drunk and disorderly from time to time. Without warning, his happy townsfolk begin to snap, and as the body count rises, Dutton and his deputy race to put the pieces together. Usually a film like this can go one of two ways. The first involves the carnage escalating as we discover that demons are possessing people, causing them to lash out at the person next to them. This would be your balls-out horror movie scenario with blood and body parts flying everywhere and our heroes fighting to stay alive. The second path is more the “Outbreak” storyline where Dutton and his wife (conveniently a doctor) fight to keep their town alive while the government would rather just nuke the whole state from space. The Crazies splits the difference.

Director Breck Eisner proves he knows how to set a mood as he unrolls scene after scene of tension so thick that any jump scare to follow will send your theater crowd into a panic. This creeping dread sticks with you as Dutton, his wife Judy (Mitchell), Deputy Clank (Anderson), and pretty young Becca Darling (Panabaker) struggle for survival with military forces storming the streets and the homicidal infected lurking in every shadow. With only the slightest pause here and there to drop a clue as to why this is happening, you are made to feel like an embedded reporter in a war zone. At any moment the person next to you could be violently murdered, and there isn’t much you can do about it but stifle your own screams and run.

Amazingly, The Crazies abandons the conventions of any typical formula very early on. The “sleepy little town going to hell while the Sheriff tries to save them” plot is ripped apart with the introduction of military forces who take most of the choices away from our heroes. Those wide open Iowa expanses fail to squash your apprehension as you come to accept there is nowhere to run. A key element in keeping you locked in is the development and likebility of those few main characters. With only four people who never leave each other to follow, you are given a significant amount of time to become emotionally invested. When any of your crew is in danger, your grip on the theater arm rests will become vice-like. You’ll believe anyone can die at any moment, and THAT is how you keep an audience standing at attention for one hundred minutes!

The Crazies (2009)Superb acting and excellent writing work together to create realistic circumstances throughout the film. I can only recall two moments when I wondered what the hell the characters were thinking when abandoning each other amid the madness. This “logic over violence for the sake of violence” stance is a refreshing change of pace and makes the horror of The Crazies incredibly effective. At first the infected townsfolk look like anyone else, revealing their altered state through violent acts. As we run alongside our crew, we watch the virus progress until the final moments when we stand before true monsters. It’s almost like a beautiful synergy. A dark, foreboding tone washing over the story like an inescapable tsunami. The once tranquil streets darkened with smoke, littered with bodies, and overrun with men who have lost all reason and morality. The escalation takes its time, wrapped around a story of unflinching terror that never slows down for more than a minute…not enough time to catch your breath.

Hardcore cinephiles will find that the director of cinematography mirrors the film’s descent into hell in an odd way. The start of the movie shows the sunny town in slightly washed out colors. A dusty, unremarkable town on a sunny day like any other. As the story takes a hard left turn, the contrast is bumped up six notches with shadows darkening and deepening like pools of black concealing the human monsters within. The tweaks in perspective punch up the terror, enhancing your dread of what you haven’t seen yet and casting an eerie glow on the menace right in front of you. The Crazies knows what scares you, and once it pins you to your seat, it won’t let go until the film’s stark finale. This is what horror is all about!

Movie fans will call The Crazies a remarkably tense, unrelenting thriller. You’ve got human drama, chases, explosions, love, death, and a bit of a mystery laced through it all. Horror fans will applaud a filmmaker for acknowledging what makes for true terror, applying proven methods to make an audience leap from their seats and groan in agony at the thought of the next fright. Of course, a healthy dose of blood and gore doesn’t hurt! Fantastically acted, superbly executed, and presented for those of us who thought a remake would have nothing new to offer, The Crazies is a perfect Saturday night!

4 out of 5

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  • thedarkestshadow

    Personally i liked the movie. I thought it was better than the original. The majority of you bashing it are just letting your hatred of remakes blind you, even if you don’t realize it. I didn’t think it was awesome like Nomad but it was a decent movie.

  • AngryChairr

    It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good. It just exists in a state of mediocrity, which seems to put it above most horror films being released today. I think my biggest problem is that the movie seemed like it really wanted to have a dark gallows humor running through it but it couldn’t commit or felt that humor would detract from the horror. The end of the car wash scene is a great example, as it shows the great bleak sense of humor the movie could have reveled in. Instead it was more cut-and-paste modern horror.

    Really, it was a collection of good ideas or good scenes strung together by a series of bad scenes and bad ideas. Like some of the logic the movie employed didn’t even make sense. The big twist at the gas station didn’t have me pissed off at who I was supposed to be, but rather the writers for doing something so out-of-character and pandering just so they could wring some extra anger out of the audience.

    Also, I hated the damn overhead satellite shots. Don’t those scenes negate the entire movie since it means the government would have been tracking the characters all along?

  • Berman

    I just got back from this and it was just awful. The characters were sketches at best so you don’t care at all; every scare is shot and telegraphed the exact same way (long shot – a crazy at the edge of the frame, close up – jump scare). But its worst crime is just how interminable the whole thing feels. When a horror film is stupid but scary you ride with it. When a horror film like this is stupid and dull, you can’t help but pick apart everything that’s wrong with it while your watching and that’s a painful experience. George exec-produced this mess so he’s off laughing somewhere as I type. I posted this same thing on Quiet Earth which seems to be the only site that’s giving it a bad review.

  • James Coker

    I have to agree with LIFEMI here, i found it to be just O.K. there wasn’t anything real special with this one, it just felt like i have seen it before

  • LifeMi

    The Crazies was okay. For the first two thirds, it went back and forth between being really good and boring. Once it was just Olyphant and Mitchell, the film fell apart for me. Could’ve been worse.

    • Sirand

      If the film had been entirely about Joe Anderson’s character, then we’d have a great film!

      • LifeMi

        Oh hell yeah! He was EASILY the best thing about the film and he rocked the goatee.

    • The Woman In Black

      Yep, that’s pretty much my review as well. I loved the first third, got a little restless during the second, and felt it all fall part in the third. I like both Olyphant and Mitchell a lot, but they had next to no chemistry, which rendered their relationship really dull and unbelievable. I agree Anderson was the best part of the whole thing — too bad he wasn’t the last man standing. 3.5/5 is the highest I can go.

  • Didn’t See It Coming

    Another positive review for a movie I was looking forward to from Nomad. Damn.

    • doubleh55

      The reviewers of this site have a really bad habit of writing reviews like they’re begging to be used on the poster. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nomad’s real name was Earl Dittman.

      Plus some start reviews like they’re entering some essay contest instead of giving us an actual review. I don’t need to imagine a town, I just wanna know if the movie is good.

      Man I need to put my money where my mouth is and send in a review to this site.

      • Uncle Creepy

        Please do Mr. Constantly-Bitching-About-Something! LOL Show us whatcha got! Start here!

        • Pestilence

          That’s it, my next review will read only “Thrilling! Amazing…a relentless shocker”.

          • Terminal

            Pestilence, don’t forget to compare the film to two totally unrelated movies. “It’s like Rosemary’s Baby and Urban Cowboy!”

            No but seriously, I’m not a fan of the start of the review. The whole “Imagine this” line. You’re not Rod Serling.

            I hope this is good. I plan to see the original before the remake.

          • LifeMi

            It never ceases to amaze me that you inevitably find something to bitch about, Terminal. While I don’t agree with Nomad’s review, I like his opening. By the way, don’t waste your time on The Crazies. It starts promising, but teeters off about halfway through. Eisner’s directing is actually pretty good but it’s Kosar and Wright’s script that is lacking. In fact, to be perfectly honest I barely remember the film TWO days after seeing it. That’s never a good sign.

          • Terminal

            LifeMi, stick around I’ll continue amaze you. I’m just bad ass like that. 😉

            Your reaction to The Crazies doesn’t surprise me. It’s been getting fairly lukewarm reviews based on the stuff I’ve read around the web.

      • Nomad

        HA! Dude I’ve NEVER had a quote on a poster most likely because I do NOT write quotably! The day I use THRILLRIDE in a sentence, I’ll kick my own ass.

        • doubleh55

          I’m going to hold you to that. lol

      • FireRam

        “Are you gonna bark all day little doggy”? “Or are you gonna bite”.
        Mr. Blonde

  • Sirand

    Didn’t care for it. Felt like a 28 Days Later clone. Well-shot with a few good set-pieces but just more of the same.

    • Nomad

      I didn’t think any part of The Crazies felt like any moment in 28 Days Later. Completely different tones. 28 dropped you in the middle of the end of the world while Crazies puts you in the situation of being hunted with the false hope that humanity is always within reach. To say more on that would spoil some plot elements so I’ll stop there.

  • fceurich39

    awesome review i can’t wait to see this tomorrow i hope the new elm street trailer is attached also got the blu-ray of the original tuesday will watch that tonight to get me pumped for the remake

    • Nomad

      Elm Street was on the front of my print, so chances are very good!