THE CRAZIES (2010) is a remake of George A. Romero’s film of the same name from back in 1973. I own both, but only the remake on blu-ray. Also, I have not seen the original in years, and I did not watch it when I watched the remake, so don’t expect my usual compare andcontrast. We’re talking about the merits of the remake as a stand-alone film, although I have this sinking feeling that had I watched the original before the remake yesterday, I would have liked the remake better.
So reason #1 THE CRAZIES (2010) is awesome? It stars Timothy Olyphant, from great shows like JUSTIFIED and DEADWOOD. He plays, no shock here, the sheriff of a small community called Ogden Marsh. The film doesn’t take a lot of time before it hits 88 mph as the town is together watching a baseball game when the ‘town drunk’ walks onto the field with a shotgun. The sheriff jumps the fence and approaches the town drunk with his gun drawn, asking him to put down the shotgun. The tension mounts. What’s wrong with this guy? Is he going to shoot the sheriff? Before you can ask any more questions, the ‘town drunk’ raises the shotgun to the Sheriff, moments from shooting him, but the Sheriff is faster and kills him with one bullet. The Sheriff tries telling himself the guy was completely drunk and that’s why it happened. But the next day the autopsy checks his BAC, 0.0, so if it wasn’t a massive amount of alcohol, what caused it?
As all of this small town drama plays out, unbeknownst to any of them, a quarantine is going into effect for the whole area. The rest of the movie is their trials and obstacles as they try to walk to the next town over, Cedar Rapids.
As it turns out the government lost a plane outside Ogden Marsh with a contagion on board, a man-made contagion that has spilled into the drinking water of Ogden Marsh. Simply put, the infection makes you…well…crazy. Getting into fights, heated arguments, murder.
It’s a little bit…just a teeny-weeny bit like the rage zombies from 28 DAYS LATER. Except these zombies have memory, power of speech. If their faces weren’t so messed up and veiny they’d be hard to tell from a person that has not contracted the infection. This helps out with the ‘it could be anyone’ feel to the film.
The film has a few jumpscares, some more legitimate scares, and scenes that just get under your skin, and a scene of sadness towards the end that’s just crushing. All of which I don’t want to tell you because you should experience it for yourself. THE CRAZIES (2010) is certainly a roller coaster ride of fear and suspense.
So what makes it work? Characters. We have some very strong characters that are not only likeable, we root like hell for them to live, and cover our eyes when their lives are in danger. First there’s the Sheriff played by Timothy Olyphant, his wife is the town doctor, and his deputy is what you might call a friend-till-the-end (yes, I lifted that from CHILD’S PLAY, deal.). Sure there are plenty of one dimensional characters. They’re just fodder for the infection. But the core group you follow throughout the last half of the film are strong characters. When you put a strong character we like in a dangerous situation, it puts us on the edge of our seat. Especially since the film burns a little kid to death in the first thirty minutes of the film. Hell, if they can kill a kid, nobody is safe.
Indeed, nobody is safe. A lesson we learn throughout the movie. However, this is where I take issue with the film.
The contagion spread through the town’s water supply, turning those that drink from the tap into crazies depending how close to the original point they are. (Guy closest to the tap water source is first crazy, and so on). If it is waterborne, then it’s safe to say it is probably blood-borne as well. So there’s a scene where Timothy Olyphant stabs a crazy in the neck with a hand that has a very fresh open wound. There’s no way that they didn’t exchange blood from her bloody neck and his wounded hand. Yet, he makes it to the end of the movie without becoming a crazy. This seems to be a giant hole in the story. Plus the ending would have been better had Timothy Olyphant’s character became a crazy and had to be ‘put down’, could have been a powerful ending. Then again, the ending the movie has is pretty powerful to begin with, so maybe I’m just asking too much.
Oh, and Glenn Morshower alert! My favorite 24 Secret Service Agent appears in this film in a small role of intelligence officer, but he gives some very important information to our protagonists.
The climactic scene takes place in a full service gas station/truck stop, and is very good at keeping your eyes glued to the screen, waiting for what happens next. Right before this scene is the sad scene of the film…all I’ll say about it is they find TONS of spent bullet casings.
But the film isn’t done there, oh no. As our protagonist(s?) drive as far and as fast away from Ogden Marsh as possible when the ultimate form of containment is released, and I’ll let your imagination inform you as to what that is (not a very difficult task, really).
I guess every time I’ve seen this movie, including the first time I saw it at the movie theater, I must have skipped out during the beginning of the credits. This time I let the credits roll and suddenly there was another scene (kind of) that plays. I can’t believe I had never seen it before. Boy did I feel stupid. So make sure to stick around for the credits before you press the ‘stop’ button on your remote. It’s a pretty good wrap-up scene and it starts about 90 seconds or so into the credits.
THE CRAZIES (2010) is great if you’re looking for a different kind of zombie movie. And if you’re looking for another different kind of zombie movie I also highly recommend MULBERRY STREET, or REC.