What is it with Midwestern US towns? Over the years, this geographical area has been struck by more cinematic misfortune than any other area of the world, surely. Zombies; crazed trucks and truck drivers; werewolves; zombies; martians; odd viruses: all of the above and many, many, more plagues and disasters have beset or been inflicted upon the poor citizens of those beautiful, open prairies that stretch across the United States.
The Breck Eisner-directed 'The Crazies' is the latest in a long line of movies to use the Midwest as a setting for horrific misfortune. The story is this: We open on a small main street burning to the ground. Okay, right so, destruction is afoot. From here we cut back two days to uncover what exactly lead to this burning wreckage.
At this point, we are introduced to cool, handsome Sheriff David Dutton (Olyphant). At a baseball game local farmer Rory walks out onto the field, shotgun in hand, and Dutton steps up to deal with him. It all goes down in a rather unfortunate way and Rory gets a lead sandwich. Things then begin to get a little strange as several more townsfolk begin to display very unusual behaviour - leading to calamitous events.
However, Sheriff Dutton gets a lead that a plane may have crash-landed in the boondocks and then discovers something very bizarre. At the same time, his beautiful and talented doctor wife Judy (Mitchell) treats a patient who arouses her suspicion. So, this husband and wife team, along with sidekick Deputy Sheriff Clank (Anderson), set out to uncover - or just get the hell out of the way - of whatever is afflicting the area.
'The Crazies' really isn't a bad film; it's just that it's not that good, either. The plot is pretty much pure hokum and breaks no new ground whatsoever in terms of the horror genre - unsurprising, really, considering it is a remake of a 1973 George A Romero classic of the same name.
That said, there is enough quality to keep you glued to the screen throughout. The film is well shot by Maxime Alexandre and he creates a very believable atmosphere for the story to play out in.
The problem is that - as so often the case with horrors - the plot lacks punch. Both Olyphant and Mitchell deliver solid performances, but there is little ingenuity in the setting, or the threat which comes to the fore. As mentioned earlier, this is not all that surprising, given that 'The Crazies' is a remake.Without giving too much away, the disaster that Dutton uncovers leads to the town being quarantined and many of the locals coming to rather sticky ends. At this point, 'The Crazies' becomes a half-horror/half post-apocalyptic movie. The main characters scavenge for what they can and attempt to keep off the road. This section of the film is done extremely well and locks viewers back into the narrative when attention is just beginning to wane somewhat. However, those wanting to see a great post-apocalyptic movie should spend their money on 'The Road'.
Ideas about nuclear weapons and government control are touched upon here and raise interesting questions at times. Ultimately, though, 'The Crazies' is for lovers of gore and formulaic horror movies. If that's your bag, then this for you.