By CORY CARRIt took me the better part of a year to sit down and watch The Crazies. I'm not a big fan of remakes and to see an original film that I enjoy be remade, it turns my stomach. But when I saw that The Crazies could be streamed from Netflix I said to myself,
"Well, you have no excuse. It's right there in front of you, you might as well watch it. After all, your some horror film review guy right? Well get to watching!"Many of you have already seen it, or read about it, or maybe even written your own reviews of The Crazies. But I'm cooler than you, so just settle down and keep reading.
As a toxin begins to turn the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa into violent psychopaths, sheriff David Dutton [Tim Olyphant] tries to make sense of the situation while he, his wife [Radah Mitchell], and two other unaffected townspeople band together in a fight for survival.
I know it sounds weird but, everything about this movie comes off as if the film makers were trying REALLY hard not to upset anyone with it. Everything I like about it, I also can form an opinion as to why I shouldn’t like it.
I really love how small and innocent the town is portrayed. I only wish that I got to see more of it before the crazies start to do crazy things. Only 3MIN. into the movie and things already get kinda… crazy. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little more mundane townsfolk chit-chat to get the audience familiar with the town and it’s people, to better know them, to identify with them. So while watching So-N-So become a crazy, get shot, set on fire I might have actually cared, rather than stare blankly at the screen.
This film follows closely to the original story and I admire it for that. Contaminated water makes crazies, sweet and simple. However, The Crazies lacks the social commentary that The Crazies from ‘73 had, but I feel that this is both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, we live in a post 9/11, post Bush administration world in which film makers, song writers, and celebrities are so eager to voice their personal opinions about politics. It’s a breath of fresh air to watch an entire 90MIN. movie and not once be interrupted by preachy political crap. I watch movies to escape reality, not to be trapped by it. On the other hand, without a social commentary the film seems a bit empty and weak. The military fucked up, but by the end they aren’t held accountable for their actions. B.T.W. if the film makers had included commentary, it would have been Katrena related I‘m sure.
Unlike the original, the military point of view isn’t displayed and explained to the audience. In this film the military is very secretive and creepy in a way that would give conspiracy nuts a wet dream. The audience sees more of our main characters and less of the government explaining why they’re doing what they’re doing. The film does a fair job of making the military seem powerful and scary. But soon they start executing contaminated townsfolk which completely pulls me away from the “oh no, gotta hide, gotta get away” emotion that I was feeling. At this point in the film I found myself becoming enraged at the actions of the soldiers. I was no longer scared and might as well have been watching Braveheart of something. This reaches a crescendo at the very end of the film. The military decide to take a page right out of Return of the Living Dead when they decide that the quarantine has failed and there is nothing left to do other than drop a nuke on the town, blowing the fuck out of everything… which doesn’t raise any questions? The official cover story is that a chemical plant caught fire and exploded, but that doesn’t explain why the people in the next town would begin to have radiation burns/poisoning!
Mushroom cloud, errr uh, I mean chemical plant on fire.
So as you can see, it’s pretty easy it make an argument both for and against this film. Other than that the dialogue, acting, music, direction seemed pretty fair. If it weren’t for a few plot holes I think The Crazies could have been a pretty good movie. Plot holes you ask? Well yeah there were a few. One in particular REALLY got under my skin. It was how the toxin was treated. It starts off as a contaminate of the water and all who drink it become effected. Later on it’s mentioned that it has become airborne, like a virus. I don’t understand how that works. It’s like saying that food poisoning is airborne, or alcohol is airborne and everybody is getting drunk. In another scene our main character, sheriff David Dutton, is fighting off two contaminated civilians. His hand has a knife driven through it, pinning it to the floor. He manages to pull the knife out of the floor while remaining stuck in his hand. He then stabs the knife into the throat of one of the civilians… Who is contaminate remember… His open wound is touching her open wound and somehow, perhaps through divine intervention, he still isn’t infested with the toxin. Now I’m no doctor, maybe there is something going on that I just don’t understand, but WTF?!
Seriously, what the fuck?!
Also, I would just like to point out the trend being set by major studio remakes of George Romero films. They all start with nifty Johnny Cash songs during the opening credits. First Dawn of the Dead with “The Man Comes Around“, and now The Crazies with “We’ll Meet Again”… I don’t know, just thought I’d mention it.
I have to say, The Crazies isn’t all bad, it seems easily forgotten and perhaps that is a good thing. Personally I’d rather it be a remake of a classic that is easily forgotten then a remake that is awful and remembered forever.
So many writers/directors who are selected to work on classic movie remakes try to put their own spin on the material, or try to add to something that wasn’t there in the first place. What true horror fans are then left with is something that looks right but somehow feels very wrong. To put it another way, it’s like running to a high school crush at the mall and remembering how she was as a daisy fresh girl from your youth, but in reality she is one of those people who have put on a few pounds in all the wrong places, with her sweatpants stuck half way up the crack of their pancake-butt. She pushes a stroller with an illegitimate dirtball kid handing out of one side and as she turns to smile, you notice that there is a space where a tooth once was. I’m guessing that her hubby had to tell her twice, if you catch me drift.
Most often they make our beloved classic look like something that we wouldn’t fuck even if it threw itself at us. In the case of The Crazies, it isn’t great but it isn’t terrible. If it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I’ve got nothing better to do, I’ll fuck it but I’m not going to tell me friends that I had.