The current trend for remaking cult horror films is making millions for Hollywood. This remake of George A. Romero’s classic 1973 The Crazies is surely no exception. It’s good though. Alongside Pontypool (also reviewed here) and 2008’s Rec., soon to be followed by Rec2 this is horror at its best. This new version of The Crazies is full of moments where you’ll jump so hard you’ll be likely to spill your popcorn, and has some moments of truly gripping, edge-of-your-seat, sweaty palms tension. You’ll find yourself genuinely wondering at some points whether the film is going to end already.
With George A. Romero as executive producer of the remake, and Breck Eisner as the director, it isn’t really surprising that the action is slick and gory, with just the merest hint of comedy. The scares are fast and furious, and the characters incredibly likeable.
The story goes thus: a small town, Ogden Marsh, in North America notices things starting to go wrong – one or two people are acting strangely homicidal, a dead parachutist is found in the local swamp and pretty soon the whole of the town finds itself in quarantine to the prerequisite mysterious, masked military. A healthy dose of bloody, gory violence and a really quite terrifying combination of enemies – the murderous, insane monsters and the menacing, shoot-first army who are supposedly solving the problem, will have you properly frightened.
The town’s sheriff, David Dutton, and his pregnant only-doctor-in-the-town wife Judy make a watchable pair, despite their somewhat saccharine-tinted lives prior to the outbreak. But it is this that makes their characters so three-dimensional and enjoyable once all hell breaks loose. It is how their relationship is so solid and normal that makes the chaos of the outbreak all the more shocking – the bad things that are happening to good people, which are what makes Romero’s work so terrifying and believable.
It is, as all good horror should be, challenging. For every question we have answered, there are more things to ask. It has been said that this is an American 28 Days Later, and it’s impossible to ignore the parallels. Despite this, The Crazies works, not least because the idea came first.