To me, modern American horror is not the strongest of genres. It seems that most of these movies that call themselves “horror” resort to using jump scares that are accentuated with loud musical cords. That isn’t horror; merely a startling scene. The Crazies is definitely guilty of this and other horror movie clichés, but with the help of adequate performances and some genuinely scary scenes this movie pushes itself up above the typical American horror film without ever achieving greatness.
In the small town of Ogden Marsh, Sheriff David (Timothy Olyphant) and his deputy, Russell Clank (Joe Anderson), are enjoying the new spring weather at the first town baseball game of the season when one of the townspeople walks onto the field with a shotgun. David handles the situation appropriately, but soon discovers along with his wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell), that many of the residents aren’t just acting strangely, but also savagely violent. The military soon intervenes to contain this mysterious “infection” in their own twisted way leaving David, Judy, Russell, and local teenager, Becca (Danielle Panabaker) to escape the town.
The faults of this film are glaring when they are exposed. There were multiple times during The Crazies where a scene got strangely quiet, and I knew exactly what was going to happen and when. This could be just from years of watching horror films, or it could be that they have gotten so generic recently that it’s just easy to catch on to what the film makers are going to do next. This is unfortunate for this film, because in other respects it strived to break through the realm of mediocrity.
The Crazies is at its scariest and most memorable when it deviates from this pattern. There are brutally satisfying scenes that gore freaks will go crazy for, but there are also very subtle moments of terror when we catch a glimpse of something in the background that the character does not see. These scenes sent chills down my spine and some even made me uncomfortable, which is good for a horror movie.
The story itself is pretty generic. This is a remake of a 1973 film of the same name by horror master George Romero, and for the time when the original was released, the story wasn’t so over told. Pretty much, there’s a virus in a small, nice town that demands evil military intervention. We’ve seen this before. It was even satirized in Slither, which I would actually choose over this movie.
By this point in my review, it probably appears that I didn’t like this movie. That’s not true. For what it was, it was enjoyable, and definitely better than a lot of horror films. The characters all had depth and I cared for each one in their own unique ways, especially Deputy Russell, who had a great character arc. The acting was all good without ever going into anything above what was needed, and a lot of the scenes (especially one concerning a Crazy and a pitchfork) were actually scary.
The main issue that I have with this movie is that it falls into generic territory way too much. If I saw another scene of a character arriving just in time to save the day, I would….well I don’t know what I would do, but I saw a lot of that. The film makers really tried with this one, and for the most part, The Crazies is a successful horror film. It’s not something I would strongly recommend, but for the people whole love films like 28 Days Later, than I would say this might be a worthwhile escape for just a couple of hours.