Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Crazies (2010)

After watching this movie, I started to notice my neighbors more closely.

Sometime genre movies tend to repeat themselves, and "The Crazies" is no exception. This horror thriller has a lot of talented acting that makes the film watchable. Starring in "The Crazies" is Timothy Olyphant of the "Justified" TV show, and 2007’s Hit Man, along with Rahda Mitchell from "Pitch Black" fame, makes a convincing action team in "The Crazies."

Set in the rural town of Ogden Marsh, the town's Sheriff, David Dutton (Olyphant), and his wife, the towns Doctor Judy (Mitchell), fight their way out of their town after a biological weapon is accidentally released into the town's water supply. One after another, the local townsfolk slip into a feverish state, where they become homicidal, turning on each other after the incubation period of 48 hours. Centering the story on David, who as the town's Sheriff who is the first to have to put down one of his town's people who showed up at a baseball game with a shotgun. Rory, the town's recovering alcoholic, aims the shotgun at the Sheriff  but David draws his pistol and shoots Rory first. Finding out later that Rory wasn't drunk, and David sets out to figure the cause of the strange behavior. Discovering that a plane crashed into a marsh that eventually feeds the town's water supply, David shuts off the water. However, it is too late to save the town, watched by government agents the people of the town disappear and it isn't until the end of the second day that the military dressed in hazmat suits capture David, and his wife Judy while they are making plans for the pregnant Judy take refuge with her mother in Cedar Rapids. The military, as usual in flicks like this are uncommunicative, and with the biological suits become the faceless symbols of an uncaring government. Putting the town under quarantine by the military, it is obvious to the audience that the military cannot allow anyone to survive. Due to Judy's pregnancy, she is running a constant fever and the military doctor’s screen her out for further examination. The military herd David off like cattle as they put refuges into buses like cattle and like the Nazis of WWII Germany, ship them most likely to their extinction. During an attempt, by a local citizen to find a relative, David escapes and goes back for his wife. They confine Judy in a hospital tent with her receptionist, Becca. Freeing both his wife and Becca, David and his deputy Russ (Joe Anderson), make their way back to the Dutton's house where they plan to supply up before their escape from the military.

Watching "The Crazies," I couldn't help but think of the "Andromeda Strain," "The Stand," "Resident Evil," and more recently "Quarantine" and its Spanish parent film "[Rec]". This theme keeps cropping up every so often that it has become totally cliche  Olyphant and Mitchell's performances make "The Crazies" watchable and even enjoyable. Breck Eisner's direction subdues the gore level, showing at best only a gore five rating on a scale of a one to ten. What Eisner does right, is that he keeps the film's pacing even and moving. Slowing down briefly every once in awhile for the audience to take in the carnage, the average horror fan will want more from the both the story and characters. What the producers and Eisner try to be unique in, is the concept that these people becoming "The Crazies," are your best friend, your neighbor, or maybe even your spouse. Unfortunately, most films of this nature require a turning point for the victim, where they go from sick, to infected, and then full, ripe zombie, crazy, or mutant, depending on which horror flick you are watching. Mitchell and Olyphant are strong enough actors to carry the film, but it is Anderson as the loyal deputy Russ who makes the film interesting.

George A. Romero is an executive producer for this updated version of his film, and I am sure he stood watch over Eisner as he updated and upgraded his original. The makeup effects depict townsfolk that are not zombies but have contracted a disease that, like "28 Days Later" starts on the inside of the body and works outward. Trying not to create complete zombie looking "Crazies," the Trixie virus as demonstrated by the head of makeup, Leo Corey Castellano, worked to create the look of real diseases. Moving the location of the accidental infection from Romero's typical location of Pennsylvania to the fictional town of Ogden Marsh*, where its seclusion creates an atmosphere of realism. The sad truth, is like what Pvt. Billy Babcock proclaims in the film, something like, "I didn't know I was in my home state until I saw the license plates," I wouldn't put it past the government to do something stupid like this. Keeping "The Crazies" in the here and now makes this film a chilling look at look at your next-door neighbor.

*Any websites for the place are fake and probably promotional.

Movie Data

Genre:  Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year: 2010
Staring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson
Director: Breck Eisner
Producer(s) George A. Romero, Dean Georgaris, Rob Cowan, Michael Aguilar
Writer:  Scott Kosa, Ray Wright, George A. Romero
Rating:  R

Running Time: 101 minutes
Release Date: 2/26/2010

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