Based on the 1973 George A. Romero film of the same name, The Crazies is part of a large collection of horror remakes that have been released in recent years. Much like Friday the 13th, or Rob Zombie’s Halloween, this take on The Crazies clearly hoped to elicit some decent box office success by trading on a cult title. What is a pleasant surprise it is then, that this is one of the more interesting remakes, which is even a little better than the original.
The small and wonderfully named town of Ogden Marshes, Iowa experiences a military plane crash. Local Sherriff David (Timothy Olyphant) is attending a local game of baseball when a townsperson appears on the field, seemingly unresponsive but clutching a gun. David attempts to talk him down, but is forced to shoot him when he raises his gun in a threatening manner. While dealing with the aftermath of this incident, other townspeople begin to behave strangely and it isn’t long before David has to contend with an outbreak of a dangerous virus, while the military descend onto the town looking to eradicate the problem.
The Crazies is a modern take on the biological virus zombies, similar in style to those found in films like 28 Days Later¦ with hyper-aggression and fast movements. The make-up by Almost Human Studios is superb and helps to accentuate the fear of the protagonists with wonderfully the gruesome appearance of infection getting worse with every scene.
Using the same storyline as the Romero original, director Breck Eisner injects a modern feel to proceedings, with lush open landscapes, which are slowly reduced to tense confined areas. The scenes where Olyphant has to return to an abandoned town give an opportunity for some wonderfully creepy and suspenseful moments, which Eisner uses for the films best scares.
The Crazies is broken into three distinct acts: The outbreak, the military incursion and the aftermath. Each has its own feel and director Breck Eisner delivers the shocks with the calm hand of a veteran, which when combined with the slick presentation and a great central performance from the consistently under-used Olyphant and The Crazies is more than serviceable horror.