This Time the Zombies are Crazy

Movie Title: The Crazies (2010)
Spoilers: No


There are easily recognized marks of a good movie. One of them is that it has me thinking about it for a while after it is over. I may not have liked the ending. I may have gone a different route in the way the plot wrapped itself up had I directed it. I may have some lingering questions about the story, maybe even some troubling gaps that need to be filled in my head in order to feel confident recommending it. But I can't quit thinking about it. Good movies can eat at your mind.

The Crazies is one such film. Directed by Breck Eisner, it stars Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff David Dutton and Joe Anderson as Deputy Russell Clank, two men struggling to make sense of why their small and quaint Iowa town is suddenly plagued with unexplained cases of insane behavior. Mentally disconnected townspeople become heartless homicidal maniacs. The strange physiological changes are like nothing a doctor has seen. At least, not a civilian doctor, but the military knows what's up.

Before long, Sheriff Dutton and his pregnant wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) are on the run with Deputy Clank. Their goal: survive, and if possible, get past the quarantine zone in one piece. Trying to survive in a city fallen to chaos will prove to be no easy thing. Things were bad. Then the military showed up. Now the mess of mass hysteria is worse. No small town with softball game attending, baseball cap-wearing Baptists for citizens deserves this.

The Crazies is a to-the-bone-chilling, visually shocking “zombie” flick that isn't quite a zombie flick. Zombie flicks have notoriously weak plots built on the noticeably cracked foundations of unjustifiable premises and outrageous happenings created to showcase guts and gore. Guts and gore, nothing more. They toil not, neither do they spin. They don't make us think, but The Crazies doesn't fit the profile. It is garnished with a revitalized plot that right nearly makes you say: “Just what if something like this happened?”

Movies as of late have gone overboard in throwing in “the F word” to express tension in the lack of it (think Pride and Glory, 2008). There is a good time for a person to use the F word, and this Resident Evil-style movie is packed full of such occasions when you know you'd use it (churchgoer or not).

Creeped out, you will be presented with three questions: a) What the fuck is going on? b) Is the outbreak to be feared the most, or c) Are the government's efforts to contain it worse than the threat itself? Who can't appreciate the human tendency to make bad things worse? We're pros at it.

Unassuming but sensibly competent, the characters fill their roles. As always with the films where the plots are most easily presented, they are the better ones to watch. It will explain itself effortlessly and prove to be worth the view, demanding your forgiveness for only a few clichéd and incogitable plot mechanics, and some heavy borrowing from 28 Days Later.

The Crazies nearly makes the cut as a must-see for anyone who can deal with the unapologetic gore and the needlessly added “zombie” makeup affects. The latter was a layer of phony and should have been left out. Is seeing ordinary gaunt people with nosebleeds with diverse symptoms and infection timetables who are willing to burn their children alive any less cool? The Crazies will stand to be counted with the 1973 original off which it is based.

And then there are those nagging questions that are left unanswered: Is “it” going to start again? How will the unjustifiable actions taken by the military be explained to the public? What happens goes way beyond a credible explanation and can't be covered up. Maybe these considerations are worthy of a grade-point deduction, but back to what we said earlier...the better movies tend to make us think.



Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars) Recommended!
Rated: R (for extreme gore, violence, and harsh language)
Director: Breck Eisner
Summary: The inhabitants of a small town in Iowa are suddenly plagued by insanity and mysterious deaths.
Starring: Timothy Olyphant "David Dutton," Radha Mitchell "Judy Dutton," Joe Anderson "Russell Clank," Danielle Panabaker "Becca Darling," Christie Lynn Smith "Deardra Farnum"
Genre: Horror / Sci-fi / Thriller