The Crazies (2010)

You know what scares me? That smirking weasel, Jon Gruden. First off, it’s horrifying to see a guy get paid millions of dollars to analyze a sport he clearly doesn’t understand. But more than that, take a look at that cheeky fucker on Monday Night Football tonight and tell me he isn’t the illegitimate spawn of Dennis the Menace and Chucky from Child’s Play. Did I just blow your mind? On to the movie!

I fully admit I have not yet seen the original version of The Crazies. Knowing I had the 2010 edition on the way from Netflix, I purposely chose to sit on the original and watch it only after seeing the remake. I’m curious to see what effect reversing my usual order will have. Come tomorrow, once I’ve seen the 1973 version (holla, PA!), I’ll probably be singing Romero’s praises and cursing Hollywood’s vast recycling conspiracy. But for now I have to say: this is one damn fine flavor.

The story: Ogden Marsh, Iowa. A nice place to farm, raise a family and maybe even take in a ballgame. That is, until a local farmer marches onto the high school baseball field, shotgun in hand, and tries to blast the town sheriff. Luckily Timothy Olyphant, who plays that sheriff, appears to be just as fast on the draw as he was in his Deadwood days. He caps the demented farmer just as he’s about to pull the trigger. The crowd is stunned, but not nearly as stunned as the sheriff when he discovers the wreckage of a downed military aircraft in a nearby marsh. He proves to be a fine detective, wasting no time putting together the pieces and figuring out that the plane, which was never reported on the news, must have been carrying something that got into the town’s water supply. He realizes quickly but too late that the town is in serious danger when the phones go dead. Sure enough, by the time he’s able to rush back to his pregnant wife, troops in hazmat gear are already on site to herd the couple and the rest of the population into a quarantine camp. The situation seems to be under control until some yocals crash the fence and duke it out with the guardsmen, shattering the containment plan and drastically upping the stakes. Now a handful of (hopefully) uninfected survivors are pitted against the military trying to keep them locked down, and a bunch of escaped crazies trying to kill them.

I'm sorry, sir, there are no refunds at the concession stand.

Biggest letdown: Maybe once I’ve seen the original I’ll get all indignant about the omission of some essential plot element or character but for now, I got nada. At one point a central character gets tied up and gagged by some crazies, who heretofore had all been mindless, speechless killing machines. It seemed awfully convenient that a major character would get the hostage treatment when the anonymous townspeople get stabbed, shot or lit on fire without a moment’s hesitation. But then the theme gets developed and we see that the infected aren’t necessarily zombies, they’re just batshit insane, which I guess I should have gathered from the title. It seems then that, over time, some of them manage to coordinate their attacks to inflict as much pain and terror as possible. Well played.

So...we're not going for ice cream?

Why you should watch: This is probably the closest I’ll come to a glowing review this season, but how about some specifics? For one, the sheriff’s wife is played by Radha Mitchell, who I’ve had a huge crush on since Pitch Black. For another, the movie does a fine job tugging on the heart strings: suffice to say, you will find yourself caring about characters who die, and their deaths will have weight. Best of all, this movie has a natural, albeit steep, build from status quo to total anarchy. I always love those precious moments of calm before the shitstorm, but too often they’re wasted on idiotic characters fumbling for answers the audience is practically shouting at the TV. There isn’t much in the way of superfluous exposition or explanation here, just what’s required to advance the story to the next disaster. Perhaps it drags a bit after the initial onslaught but that’s largely unnoticeable given the plausibility of the characters’ actions in most every scene before and after.

This is all Obama's fault.

Memorable Moment: There are a bunch that come in the third act but I love movies too much to be a spoiler.  One I found particularly chilling early on was the first time we see the military open fire on civilians, even though said civilians clearly pose no threat and are totally surrounded. From that point on it’s clear the soldiers’ mission goes beyond separating the infected from the uninfected, and I have to believe that if it ever came to an actual “containment protocol” situation, that’s exactly what might be expected to happen.

On a personal note, I also kinda liked the moment when the school principal strolls into an army tent and starts methodically pitchforking the helpless patients as they lay strapped to their gurneys. My dad was a principal and I can safely say that people who have to deal with juvenile delinquents and their charming parents all day should not be allowed near sharp objects.

Choice quote: “You’re not getting sick.” “I hope you’re right, chief. I’m no world-beater, but I had plans.”

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3 Responses to “The Crazies (2010)”

  1. I just heard Penn State is rumored to be looking at Jon Fucking Gruden as Joe Paterno’s successor. If this comes to pass, the apocalypse is much closer than I thought. Please, please no.

  2. […] The Crazies (2010) – That rare remake that surpasses its source material. […]

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