Review by Jack Foley
BRECK Eisner’s remake of George A Romero’s little seen ’70s horror The Crazies is, for once, a horror film that’s worth getting excited about.
It may lack the political bite of Romero’s original, but it’s still a brutal, efficient and constantly thrilling ride that mixes bloody chills with jump-out-of-your seat moments.
What’s more, it features a good cast on top form, some nice build-up, some clever set pieces and more than a passing jibe at the expense of US military practices to give it some contemporary clout.
Split into three parts, the film picks up as the residents of Ogden Marsh begin acting strangely. It’s therefore up to town sheriff Timothy Olyphant and his pregnant GP wife (Radha Mitchell) to make sense of it, as former friends and colleagues become borderline catatonic before then turning murderous.
Part two kicks in once the military gets involved to try and cover up the mess of its own making, killing and quaranteeing people at will… while part three deals with the aftermath as the few survivors attempt to flee the ultimate Doomsday scenario.
Admittedly, the first two sections are the most fun, particularly the early sequences involving the creepy build up involving Ogden’s residents.
A scene at a baseball match sets the scene well, while another on a farm at night involving a father and his loved ones is guaranteed to keep you guessing and, eventually, chill.
As the mayhem gets worse, there’s another tense sequence involving Mitchell’s GP being strapped to a bed as another farmer goes mad with a pitchfork… and so on.
Olyphant does his best Clint Eastwood impression as he lays waste to anyone that gets in his way, while attempting to make sense of it all and keep his loved ones safe, while Mitchell mixes scream queen elements with a feistiness more befitting modern heroines.
There’s notable support, too, from Joe Anderson as a possibly infected deputy whose allegiances continually provide some ambiguity.
Eisner, for his part, also has a certain amount of fun with the paranoia elements and displays a nice line in black humour… especially in some of the responses from his protagonists to events as they unfold. While his violence is suitably grisly without feeling gratuitous.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that by opting a little too heavily on more traditional shock tactics, the director short-changes the characters and fails to make his central trio as well-rounded as they could have been.
But, in truth, audiences will probably be having too much fun to notice as they bite their fingernails and await the next shock. It’s that kind of movie… but one that’s expertly put together to create a thrill ride, with some political resonance, that’s will almost certainly keep you gripped for the duration of its concise running time.
Smart, clinical and effective, this is one Hollywood remake that gets it right!
Running time: 101mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 19, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Breck Eisner interview
- The Crazies Photo Gallery