Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Breck Eisner, 2010
Written by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright
You’re forgiven for being apprehensive about a remake of THE CRAZIES, George Romero’s classic (as in age, not quality) bit of ’70s violence and paranoia. I know I was. After all, we live in a climate where studio (not talent) driven remakes arrive at regular intervals calculated by accounting departments, where insulting remakes are a dozen a dime and where exceptional remakes are a dime a decade. You’ll not be forgiven, however, if you call yourself a horror fan and still turn your back on Breck Eisner’s exceptional remake of THE CRAZIES this weekend. I don’t care what your excuse is, either; if you have more than 2 hours time to spare in the next 72 hours and you opt not to pay deserving coin to see THE CRAZIES at your local picture house, you’re officially part of the problem.
For those who haven’t seen the original 1973 film, THE CRAZIES is about a small town held under brutal government quarantine after a plane carrying an insanity-inducing, water-born virus crashes into the county water supply. That’s it, really. Whereas the original film was a jumbled-up mishmash of an outbreak film that was as much about a few town folk as it was the govies’ inept handling of the situation, this new evolution of THE CRAZIES has abandoned the latter part wholesale. Instead, it focuses entirely on the town Sheriff (Timothy Olyphant), his wife (Radha Mitchell), his deputy (Joe Anderson) and his wife’s co-worker (Danielle Panabaker) as they try to survive the arrival of this colossal government fluster cluck.
Not only do they have to contend with a ‘contain at all costs’ military presence, but the rest of the townies pose an even more lethal threat. The virus, which carries over the original film’s codename of Trixie, has the effect of transforming the infected into hideous killers swarming with varicose veins. They’re not mindless, though. Depending on the stage and severity of incubation, the Crazies can still talk and plot, they’re just crippled by poor impulse control. That last bit makes for an exciting and fresh variant of dread we don’t see often in Hollywood horror: human in thought, zombie in action.