The Crazies (2010)

“Holy crap, that was crazy!”

It wasn’t intended at the time, but that was a bit of a ridiculous exclamation I made walking out of the movie, you know, ‘The Crazies.’ Starring Tim Olyphant, the movie was a fantastic jump-fest right from the start. Having seen the commercials, and watched some of the brief action sequences in those, I had to chuckle then raise an eyebrow in surprise. The movie makes no bones about jumping right into the action. Less than three minutes in, we have a satellite snapping pictures from the sky of a lazy little town called Ogden Marsh, and shortly there after a crazed ex-drunk lunatic coming out of left field (which I suspect is an ode to the phrase)on a baseball diamond , pump-action shotgun in tow. He looks like he just got out of the sewer, and whenever Smell-O-Vision becomes a technical reality, he’ll probably smell like it too. I was NOT expecting the gunshot wound to the skull like Olyphant’s character has to deliver before you’ve had time to process your first few bites of post-light-dimming gorging.

It was not until after I saw the credits roll did I realize that this movie is actually a remake of the original in 1973. George Romero, classic zombie film producer/writer/director and otherwise plutonic necrophiliac, originally produced the very first. With the success of Zach Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead,” Romero has figured out that remakes can strike box-office gold if he can translate the zombies and other ill-to-dos to the big screen for this generation. “The Crazies” is his latest producer roll, giving the directorial rights again to an up-and-comer, Breck Eisner. The remake of the 1977 classic, “Dawn of The Dead”, was given to, at the time, a little known director by the name of Zach Snyder. Snyder delivered such a raw and visceral remake, the new “Dawn of The Dead” still stands out as one of Romero’s highest grossing films. Zach Snyder won fame from his execution of the script, and has since gone on to direct a little known movie, 300, and a classic adaptation of ‘The Watchmen.’ I believe “The Crazies,” once embraced by the general public, will go the same route.

But enough on Snyder. This movie shines as a “jumper,” employing camera tricks and otherwise wicked sequences of events that make a grown man such as myself jump and squeal in utter surprise. Hell, there are even moments you know it’s coming, and being lost in the sequence of events, concern for the characters, or the otherwise loud-screaming woman three seats from you, you still get caught with that moment where your hands come up and you heart races and you’re immediately wrapped back up in the suspense of the moment.

Another aspect that really interests me as a watcher of horror movies is the aspect of the virus/biological weapon/unknown infection idea. The classic horror movies didn’t try to explain themselves. “The Crazies,” along with latest zombie horror flicks, has a catalyst that starts things into motion. In “The Crazies,” there is a plane crash that occurs about a week before the events start to place. The story arc is fascinating and eerie, a group of hunters finding the distended remains of what looks to be an Army pilot. “Where there’s a pilot,” says our antagonist, “there’s a plane.”

The spooky really starts to kick up at that point, the cinematography, dialogue, and acting notching up the fear to another level. Olyphant’s character, David, accompanied by a deputy and someone driving the boat go out into an aquifer to search out the plane in question. Someone had reported a loud crash about a week ago, but the plot makes this man out to be a chronic liar, and it was summarily disregarded. There’s a moment, that even as I write this, I get goose-bumps.

David signals to stop the boat. There is a momentary pause for effect as his eyes peruse the waters. His eyes light up in enlightenment and a cursory fear. The boat is coasting to a stop. Another character states “We haven’t found the plane.” Olyphant disagrees and has an intense look into the water.

“Yes we have. We’re right over it.”

The other characters look around, still trying to figure out what’s in the water.

“And it’s huge…”

Camera fades back and up, and the boat is swallowed up in the shadowy outline of the plane lying there in the water. This is a tanker or other subsequent transport aircraft and it’s HUGE.

There’s a clear revelation that something is amiss in Ogden Marsh. This is clearly a military aircraft, and there has been nothing in the news, no one investigating the situation. The camera zooms out further, out of the atmosphere and into the eye of a camera on a satellite. A simple phrase runs across the terminal.

Begin containment procedures.

As an avid zombie movie fan and otherwise post-apocalyptic stories, this gave me a giant grin as I sat there. The first thought in my head was “It’s ON.” This movie has me. This movie is running a unique path through the virus-infected zombie subset, and this is as fresh as it gets. Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” reinvented the zombie creature feature, and I believe “The Crazies” takes that idea and notches it up a few levels. In Boyle’s game-changer, the threat was solely the zombies, with a sub-plot of a military influence. In “The Crazies,” the military plays an equally insidious and unapologetic killing machine as well. The duality of the threats, coupled with shotgun-wielding rednecks, the threat of infection among the group, a couple sub-plots that play out in character interactions, and the craziest car wash/Hellcat missile sequence you’ll ever see on film makes this to be a FANTASTIC movie.

A.

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