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Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker
Writers: Scott Kosar/Ray Wright
Director: Breck Eisner
Company: Overture Films
The Crazies is not anything new; it's got all the trappings of a traditional zombie movie: weird infection, people running, one of them infected, yadda yadda rinse repeat. However, when it's done right it's an excellent watch and The Crazies is just that, an excellent horror film with some good scares and a decent story to boot.

Ogden Marsh is a small town in Iowa with a population of little over a thousand. It's nice, it's quaint, it's the middle American John Mellancamp used to write albums about. At least it was, until on opening day of high school baseball, a man charges the field wielding a shotgun. The Sheriff of the town, David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), confronts him, asking him to put the gun down. Instead, the man wields it against him and Dutton regrettably is forced to shoot him dead. Initally, it's chalked up to a case of drunkeness, but more people begin to act the way the dead man did; a blank look in their eyes, and a propensity for violence. As Dutton digs deeper, he finds out that something has infiltrated their drinking water and it's starting to break out all around. Dutton, along with doctor wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), his deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), and Judy's secretary Becca (Danielle Panabaker) attempt to escape...but unfortunately, the government has dispatched the army to quell the spread of this "plague"...and anyone who is a resident of Ogden Marsh is fair game.

As I said in the opening paragraph, The Crazies doesn't break new ground in cinematic storytelling. It's very reminiscent of the old Romero zombie films (fitting since this is a remake of a 70's film that Romero himself directed), but a different menace. Instead of lifeless zombies, the people are conscious but their only goal is to kill everyone in their path. If you like zombie movies like this, then you'll love The Crazies. I happen to love zombie movies, so you know where I stand.

The acting and direction in The Crazies is honestly a lot better than I expected it to be. After watching the horrible messes that were Hitman and Live Free or Die Hard, I grew to not want to see Timothy Olyphant on my screen. Here, though, he gives a great performance as the leader of the group hell bent on keeping everyone, especially his wife Judy, safe. Olyphant makes a badass action hero, and he does enough emoting and great line delivery to make this movie keep afloat in parts that don't involve action. Joe Anderson, who plays Olyphant's deputy, also turns in a wonderful performance and was the best out of everyone in the movie.

Breck Eisner, who has been up and down in his directing career (Sahara was a mess, but The Invisible Man is one of my guilty pleasure shows), did a great job with The Crazies. The shots are excellent and he establishes a great mood of discontent and fear. The scares in The Crazies are the traditional jump scares we see in horror films these days, but it's backed up by about three minutes of suspense before them so you are already freaked out by the time the actual scare happens. He also manages to do a lot with a little budget, as I know it was made relatively cheaply, but does not show the effects whatsoever.

I also really dug the story as a whole, especially once the armies come in to contain the spread. It's got some great Children of Men imagery when the people begin to get rounded up like cattle and anyone even suspected of having the disease are killed on the spot. It added a little more to a movie that otherwise could have been interchangeable with something like 28 Days Later.

The mood of the movie is greatly enhanced by the creepy score done by Mark Isham. It's not a flat out orchestra, but well placed notes here and there that add to the creepy factor and experience.

Unfortunately, The Crazies also feels very unoriginal. It looks and plays like a Romero zombie movie and you can almost guess how it ends immediately after it starts. Some of the acting is a little suspect, especially Radha Mitchell who delivers some of her lines in a Malin Ackerman tone that had me grimacing. The Crazies is also more about the survival than the scare, and is not as action packed as you would think for a movie like this. If you are going in expecting wall to wall mayhem, you will be disappointed. If they had cut some of the blood out, it could have easily made a PG-13 rating, especially in this day and age.

However, The Crazies is worth a watch. It's a fun survival horror movie with an interesting enough plot to keep you watching a great performance by Olyphant. You won't be shocked by its originality, but neither should you be. It stands on its own two feet despite its flaws, and is a great reminder of why I never go to Iowa.

Final Verdict:
B




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