Directed by Breck Eisner
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell
A small-town sheriff and his motley crew get caught up in a military conspiracy about an outbreak that turns people smarter than your average zombie. Does this remake hold water? Yes, but don’t drink it.
Residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa slowly turn sick and murderously insane, and the US Military moves in to quell the outbreak. Town sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) finds himself between a rock and a hard place, trying to escape both crazies and soldiers with his wife and town doctor Judy (Radha Mitchell), while he finds out the origin behind the disease and the steps gone to cover it up.
The Crazies is an exciting rollercoaster. From funeral homes to truck stops to schools to car washes and et cetera, these characters are constantly moving. And like a rollercoaster, the film has its ups and downs which pace the scares out really well. The scares are often predictable yet still pop out just right, thanks to a well-paced suspense in the build ups. The timing is well executed to find a balance between the peak of anticipation and the dropping of the guard for when a random crazy shows up.
This is a tale of perseverance when anarchy and order clash. There are the crazies, who aren’t simply zombies like they appear. They are average people who have just snapped, all in different (usually fatally) ways thanks to a terrible disease. It’s a great concept, allowing people to still function with deadly accuracy in specific goals instead of mindlessly hunting for food. Then there’s the military, coming in to overkill the containment in a problem it ultimately created in the first place.
If it sounds like a George A. Romero flick, then guess what. It was, back in 1973. This modern remake of the film of the same name maintains the basic premise of the crazies and the military, but instead of splitting the focus between characters on both sides, director Breck Eisner instead focuses solely on Sheriff Dutton’s fight for survival. It’s the right move in keeping the film fresh as opposed to a carbon copy, and Eisner manages to still add a tiny bit of sympathy to the soldiers anyhow.
It’s not without its flaws though. Sheriff Dutton is obviously overqualified to be this small town’s sheriff. Actor Timothy Olyphant must have picked up some otherwise unexplained stealth and pain management techniques from the greatly inferior Hitman movie. Also, some scenes and characters almost seem like they are going to have a bigger role than what the movie ultimately does with them, particularly with how the mayor is set up.
And as already stated, it’s often predictable, but the film is still a fun ride.
The film is in anamorphic 2.40:1 widescreen. The colors are fine, from vivid to purposely washed out in the sun. Scenes are lit will enough to always see what’s happening.
Dolby Digital 5.1. Thankfully, no annoying overly loud sound effects for the jump scares. The soundtrack only has two vocal songs – at the opening and then the ending credits. The rest of the background music accents the sound effects and adds to the mood without being especially noticeable. Otherwise unremarkable.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc comes in a standard DVD case with a cardboard slip cover. The slip cover is the same as the DVD case except with a raised image on the cover.
The back has a screenshot of Timothy Olyphant that doesn’t seem to be in the movie, and there are no deleted scenes on the disc, so I don’t really know where it’s from.
Speaking of which, there are a good amount of special features. The commentary only features director Eisner, which is interesting enough for the making of but otherwise isn’t especially entertaining. The different behind-the-scenes segments – each ranging 5-10 minutes long – give added insight into the making of the film. The George A. Romero documentary is also 10 minutes long, and unfortunately it’s just as light and superficial as one could expect from a 10-minute documentary on such a guy.
Copies of storyboards and the screenplay are neat extras, but they are PDFs only for use on your computer. Sorry you small group of people who actually watch DVDs on televisions. Silly you.
The best extra is hands down the motion comics. They expand on some small yet key characters from their own viewpoints as they deal with the town outbreak. These add character depth and showcase the effect the crazy-making disease has on these regular people. The only downside is that the disc only contains issues one and two of four. Three and four have to be bought and downloaded separately (or wait for the special edition).
The Crazies is an enjoyable thriller. You can see pretty much everything coming, but it’s still fun to watch it all happen. And once the movie is done, really check out the motion comics. But don’t drink the water.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Series 7.5/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10