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.
This 2010 remake of a somewhat obscure 1973 George Romero picture injects a mysterious virus into the water supply of a small Iowa town, and the consequences are… well, you didn't expect the consequences to be positive, did you? The movie is called The Crazies
, after all. So when local folk begin acting a mite peculiar, it just means they've gone to the well too often--literally. Borrowing the structure of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
, the remake gets off to a clumsy start, but as the noninfected rally around the sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) and his doctor wife (Radha Mitchell), the action becomes streamlined and reasonably inventive. Director Breck Eisner has a particular knack for finding ingenious ways of killing people (a knife through the hand becomes a useful tool for the sheriff in one turn-the-tables moment), and he's been wise enough to hire respectable actors for the top-lined duties; along with Olyphant and Mitchell, there's also Joe Anderson (Across the Universe
) as a loyal, amped-up deputy. If the movie misses the tart social-context stuff that Romero does so well, it at least fills the bill when it comes to the chase-and-escape business of a contemporary horror picture. The spate of such 21st-century remakes of 1970s horror pictures misses the raw, raggedy unease of those low-budget projects, but if you're going to make a slick new update, The Crazies
is the way to do it. --Robert Horton
Stills from The Crazies (Click for larger image)