Tuesday, March 2, 2010




I haven't seen the original CRAZIES, so I wasn't prejudiced for or against this movie in any way. Having seen several trailers for this movie already, I was hyped, but deep down I was asking myself "will this bring anything new to the table"?

The film starts off with the center of a town burning. Cars are torched and banners are falling ablaze. It reminded me of the opening credits of TERMINATOR 2 minus the cool soundtrack and apocalyptic vision. At first I assumed the story started there. It doesn't. The story actually starts two days before with a small glimpse of a small rural life in a farming Iowa town. It is opening day at the baseball field, and much of the town is in attendance cheering their children and school on.

From this point the movie takes a grim turn as a drunken mechanic walks on to center field with a double-barreled shotgun. Those of us that have seen the trailers already know what's going to happen next, but that's not what the film wants. THE CRAZIES wants you to take the ride of discovery as if you were one of the townsfolk. And it's a fun ride.

Timothy Olyphant plays David Dutton, the town Sheriff. He has a calm demeanor and typically plays a scenario out with his gut instinct and rationale. In a town where everyone knows each other, Dutton is out to keep everyone happy and safe. It’s clear early on that he's about people and not procedure.

But when the bodies start racking up and Dutton finds himself investigating what was once a "full of shit" tip, the plot quickly thickens, and how deeply the town is in trouble becomes very clear. We find the government is watching via satellite very early on, and it doesn't take this Perry Mason character long to figure out military intervention (or containment) is inevitable.

Dutton quickly finds the root cause of an illness that is spreading. He even has a plan to stop it. Bureaucratic red tape has other plans. When Dutton confronts the town mayor about shutting off the towns’ water supply, the same Cheney-esque style of ignorance/stupidity portrayed in THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW in which a politician is worried more about his reelection bid than his constituents’ well-being is presented.

After all, shutting down a farming towns’ water supply in early spring means bankruptcy for the town, and as we all know, people place blame at the top. What follows next is a priceless piece of "civil disobedience."

From this point on, Dutton’s steadfast endeavors to put a halt to this now potential pandemic are irrelevant as the National Guard shows up and buses everyone to a concentration camp-style staging area.

This brings about a scene straight from OUTBREAK but far worse. As townsfolk try to escape, they are gunned down, leading to a riot of all the "infected" running amok and a forced evacuation by the military post-haste.

Things go to hell in rapid time. The audience is privy to all kinds of clues that lead up to the inevitable end of this catastrophe as Dutton and his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and Deputy Russell Clark (Joe Anderson) try to make their escape.

Unfortunately, as with all Hollywood movies, a certain amount of disbelief is required to enjoy THE CRAZIES. I just can't see anyone getting their hand impaled and still having enough function in it to punch someone in the face or even fire a gun let alone drive.

But THE CRAZIES does bring some new elements to the screen. Also, as the film’s credits roll, a small clip plays that answers an important question about the virus in a particularly funny way.

This film doesn’t have a lot of gore but does have a decent amount of blood and decay. A few predictable "jump" scenes fill in the gaps, but what surprised me were at least two scares that also got the rest of the audience. The director apparently wanted us to feel too safe at specific times, and then POW! Excellent!

The acting was on par. I especially liked Tim Olyphant and Radha Mitchell's performances. And overall, THE CRAZIES will make a solid rental for those who will miss the theatrical release.

-Spinal Villain

Pics and discussion in the MEDIASAURS' CRAZIES thread


Contact M-Rex here