[Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson]
The northeast was covered in snow on Friday, closing down the roads and most businesses... mine included. I almost ventured out to see George Romero's remake, but I was exhausted after snow shoveling my property and the grandmotherly neighbor across the street. I believe that she had more snow then we did. I was even "delighted" when the city plow came down the road, saw me, backed up to adjust his blade, then proceeded to add boulders of white across the driveway for me to re-dig out!.
SYNOPSIS: The sheriff of Ogden Marsh watches and reacts as the members in his town start exhibiting strange and violent behavior. Soon, the government sends in troops and hazmat staff to start containment, leading to more violence and death.
Always a fan of the genre, and of George Romero's work, I was instantly drawn to the trailers of this remake, with Timothy Olyphant in the lead role and a haunting "Mad World" track over the chaos. Where Romero's original 1973 film was low budget and a thinly veiled reworking of the zombie genre like his "...of the dead" series to date, this script by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright takes the best of Romero's screenplay and amps it up.
From the original is the cause of the town's plight, a downed government transport whose bio-weapon contents seep into the local water supply. Also included is the government's attempt to contain their mess before a pandemic occurs. From there, Kosar and Wright change the lead characters from firemen to sheriff David Dutton and his deputy Russell Clank. David's nurse girlfriend is now cast as his married wife doctor, Judy. Judy is still pregnant but more sure of herself. The cast from the original for the government officials, containment specialists and doctors have been reduced to nameless "alien" masked doctors and troops. All great changes.
Where the 1973 version delved into both sides of the conflict, the infected townsfolk and the government attempt to contain them. In the new version, we see the conflict from only the side of those affected and infected. No longer is the story diluted with the emotionless banter of government bureaucrats. If you want that, you can watch a movie with Dustin Hoffmann and a diseased monkey again. We catch glimspes of the townfolks peril in "Outbreak", but in "The Crazies" we live through the uncertainty and terror due to the virus. We live through the craziness of it all.
In the original, we get to see a girl sweeping the grasses after a few infected are gunned down. In the new version, we get so many great "crazy" moments, from an older lady singing hymns and riding a bike with streamers, to a group of car wash attendants with a little too much enthusiasm. Director Breck Eisner brings plenty of suspense and more than a touch of horror to a film that needed both.
And the thing that Romero did well in his film is done even better in the 2010 remake. What constitutes crazy? Of course, the infected become stark-raving homicidal maniacs. Their actions are obvious. But neighbors and family dealing with their now lunatic loved ones, then forceful removal from their homes, then watching more loved one being torn away as possibly infected based on a raised body temperature can make anyone snap. And how long does it take before you start believing that you or the people around you may be crazy. Luckily for the audience, we get out before the effects become permanent!
Worth: Matinee and DVD