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The Crazies (2009)

Fear Thy Neighbor

Starring:

Brett Rickaby

Christie Lynn Smith

Danielle Panabaker

Joe Anderson

Justin Welborn

Larry Cedar

Lisa K. Wyatt

Radha MitchellRadha Mitchell

Timothy Olyphant

Directed by:

Breck Eisner

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 101 minutes

US Certificate: 15 UK Certificate: R

Country: United Arab Emirates, United States

The Crazies is one of those films that is completely betrayed by it’s title. A poor film name is dangerous to a movie’s success as it can stop you giving a film a chance in the first place – a bit like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (give away) or Highlander: The Quickening (is that even a word?). To be fair to Breck Eisner, this is a remake of George Romero’s 1970s horror yarn, so he can’t be blamed, but it is still a shame that it could prematurely put people off a well-made horror movie complete with plenty of depth and a hatful of thrills and chills.

The Crazies is about a small non-descript town in America – the kind where everybody knows your name and a handlebar moustache is still an acceptable facial adornment – which is gripped by a virus that seems to be turning everyone crazy. The military arrive in their droves to try and contain the outbreak by any brutal means neccessary. The smug but likeable Sheriff Dutton (Olyphant) and his wife Judy (Mitchell) are split up after she is mistakenly misdiagnosed as mentally ill (I prefer the terminology – a little more dignified). Dutton breaks her and her young receptionist Becca (Darling), out of a field hospital/prison with the help of Russell, his trusty deputy (Anderson). The group then fight against the military, the town’s crazy inhabitants and bounty hunters as they try to escape the area.

The concept is fascinating and engrossingly portrayed. The main characters are likeable and Sheriff and his wife are easy to support as they fight on with unbending principals and even when Russell starts to go a little crazy he still seems like a dependable, well-rounded guy. A decent amount of time is taken to set the scene and Eisner handles the atmosphere of repression and paranoia chillingly well. You may feel like you have seen a lot of this before but that is because The Crazies was one of the original takes on the outbreak scenario. However, this remake is what the groundbreaking but less-than-amazing original could have been. The main flaws are quite minor but rather annoying. The effects of the disease are inconsistent as the main characters are given a lot longer before they get sick and there are a few plot holes but overall, you’d be CRAZY not to give it a try. Not funny? I’ll leave it at that.

It's Got: An interesting premise, a set of likeable characters, decent shocks.

It Needs: A better title.

Alternatives:

28 Weeks Later, Dawn of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Crazies (1973)

Summary

A lot better than the title would have you believe, this superior remake has the right amount of substance and chills.

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