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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)
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- The Romero Template Featurette
- Paranormal Pandemics
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
- Rob Hall Makeup Featurette
- Audio Commentary
- Still Gallery
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Top customer reviews
No plote spoilers from me: The story unfolds in an idealistic farming community where life is predictable and everyone knows everyone, in short a place I would like live. When a seemingly random divergence from the norm occurs, quickly followed by odd (and deranged) behavior by normally upstanding citizens, the small town sheriff (well acted by Olyphant) and his deputy (Anderson) begin to investigate the connections between the events. Add to this a very wholesome and loving relationship between the sheriff and his doctor wife (Mitchell), and you start to care about the three main characters. The pace of the movie changes quickly when the military arrives to contain the situation and it did keep me in an uneasy state (which is good for a horror movie).
I have watched this three or four times now and still find it enjoyable.
The biggest name in this film is Timothy Olyphant in the lead role as sheriff of small town Ogden Marsh, Iowa (population 1260). The rest of the cast and the director, Breck Eisner, are not quite as well-known, but they all do a very competent job. The acting and the directing are so well-coordinated that you never have the feeling the film is trying to "showcase" a particular actor, nor that the actors are ever competing with each other for attention. That, along with the pace of this film, which to me seemed just perfect (transitioning very gradually from casual to almost frenetic as things fall more & more apart) really allows the viewer to suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in the story. And there is plenty of story. There's plenty of scares too, but this film never loses sight of telling a story, focusing on a small group of people trying desperately to escape this town alive. They have not only the "crazies" to contend with but also the military (in classic Romero style, the government is no more trustworthy than the disease). The violence is just sufficient to maintain a real sense of suspense, without over-the-top or gratuitous gore.
The film is almost entirely first-person viewpoint, and along with the characters we learn that something is terribly wrong, people are going berserk and senselessly attacking others; that it apparently came from the cargo on a military plane that crashed in the marsh which supplies the town water; that it might have become airborn; that the military is rounding up and quarantining everyone; and finally, that nobody is going to be allowed to get out...
There are also plenty of head-fakes in which you don't know whether something awful is about to happen or not, but these too are done in a reasonably sophisticated way, not overly calling attention to themselves but just keeping you constantly on-edge and not knowing just what's coming next.
The blu-ray looks great and the musical score is good, particularly at the ending credits. There are a moderate number of "bonus features"; three short (10 minute) featurettes being the most interesting to me. This was really filmed in Iowa, as well as in rural Georgia (enabling filming to avoid the cold Iowa winters and the hot Georgia summers). The whole story takes place over just a couple of days. I'm doubting there will be a sequel although the final sequence left open the possibility. This is a very nicely-done horror film with good characterization and a somewhat understated style. It should appeal not just to horror film devotees but to a somewhat wider audience.