If there was ever a movie that deserved a remake it was the 1973 George A. Romero written and directed horror, The Crazies. A low-budget movie that tells the story of a small town and the effect of the accidental release of a military biological weapon upon the people that live there. You can read our review here.
In 2010 it would get its remake directed by Breck Eisner, with a screenplay by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright. Romero also served as an executive producer of the film.
Starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, the basic outline of the plot is the same. A small American town is infected by a government created virus named ‘Trixie’ driving the inhabitants insane. However, whereas the original followed two stories, one about the civilians and soldiers in the town and the other about politicians and military leaders away from the town this remake focuses on a select few characters trying to survive.
Refusing to hang about, in the town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa things are about to go very wrong. The sheriff David (Olyphant) is watching a baseball game with most of the town when a resident walks onto the field holding a shotgun. David confronts the man and is forced to shoot him dead.
This is just the start…
Over the next 24 hours more and more of the townspeople begin to act strangely. David is at a loss and his wife Judy (Mitchell) who is the town’s doctor isn’t able to help.
Then the murders begin starting with a farmer who burns his wife and child alive before mowing the lawn. It’s pretty horrendous stuff.
David discovers that a pilot’s body was found in the local swamp so along with his deputy Russell (Joe Anderson) goes to investigate. The pair find that a military aircraft crashed into the river and David links this to the town’s water supply. Whatever was in the aircraft has infected the town’s drinking water so he shuts it off. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late as the town of Ogden Marsh is locked down by the military.
For those stuck inside the borders it is a desperate fight to survive.
As remakes go there is a strong argument that The Crazies 2010 is a better movie then the original. It’s leaner, more compact and way more relentless. From the first couple of minutes to the final credits, it doesn’t give you much time to breathe but still takes enough time to properly explain its story.
By focusing on a handful of characters, it’s easier to be invested in their plight. Both Olyphant and Mitchell do well in their respective roles although some of their characters decisions can be frustrating. However, often the most enjoyable performances come from the undercard actors. Those infected by Trixie really get to be imaginative with what they do and in the case of one character, his slow succumbing to the infection is incredibly tense.
In fact, that’s what The Crazies does so well…tension. So many scenes drip atmosphere and uncomfortable strain. Characters get put in situations that seem impossible for them to survive making for a nervous watch. It’s just a pity that most of these payoff with bland jump-scares or another character arriving just in the nick of time.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about The Crazies 2010 though is how seriously it takes itself. I’m not saying it should have been played for laughs but you can’t shake the feeling that the filmmakers could have really had some fun with the crazy antics of the infected residents. Instead the movie kind of glosses over that.
Good make-up and effects was a must and this remake doesn’t disappoint. The later stages of the infection really do look nasty and the blood flies. It’s another box in the positive column ticked for a movie that is better than you might expect it to be. Sure, it has plenty of frustrating moments (stop splitting up) but is pretty enjoyable overall.