Smart, suspenseful horror. It’s rare to see those three words together. But The Crazies manages to blend them without breaking much of a sweat. Amazing to think that a movie with a $20 million budget can provide this kind of thrill ride in the age of $500 million movies. And to think it was also a remake of a film from the early 1970s… Shocking!
Starring Timothy Olyphant as upbeat, optimistic Sheriff Dutten and Radha Mitchell as his wife, the pragmatic town Dr., The Crazies dives into the horrific scenario of what happens if a biological warfare agent gets released in the United States. What would the response be?
It starts with an absolutely killer opening scene with the town drunk, now a few years sober, walking onto a high school baseball field with a shotgun in the middle of a game. From the moment that the Sheriff deals with this bizarre behavior decisively to the very end, it’s a heck of a ride.
Suffice it to say that Deputy Clank (Joe Anderson) stole the show for me. Olyphant and Mitchell were fine in their roles as optimist and pragmatist, but the deputy embodied not only some great comic relief but showed the self sacrifice of a true hero under pressure even at the end.
Here’s the synopsis:
Imagine living in a small town where everything is safe and happy…until suddenly it isn’t. Imagine your friends and neighbors going quickly and horrifically insane. In a terrifying tale of the “American Dream” gone horribly wrong, four friends find themselves trapped in their hometown in The Crazies, a reinvention of the George Romero classic directed by Breck Eisner from a screenplay by Ray Wright (Pulse, Case 39) and Scott Kosar (The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
David Dutten (Timothy Olyphant) is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house…after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Within days, the town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, blood-thirsty killers, hiding in the darkness with guns and knives. Sheriff Dutten tries to make sense of what’s happening as the horrific, nonsensical violence escalates. Something is infecting the citizens of Ogden Marsh…with insanity.
Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won’t let anyone in or out – even those uninfected. The few still sane find themselves trapped: Sheriff Dutten; his pregnant wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell); Becca (Danielle Panabaker), an assistant at the medical center; and Russell (Joe Anderson), Dutten’s deputy and right-hand man. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for survival as they do their best to get out of town alive.
Honestly I don’t know why this film didn’t make more than the reported $18 million in its opening weekend. It’s one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in ages. I hope it goes on to earn many more millions for the actors, writers, director, and studio. A solid 4 out of 4 stars.
What did you think?
p.s. Check out the ’70s version at Amazon below!
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