Unreal Movie Review: The Crazies


The horror genre is something that I feel has been dying a long and slow painful death as of late. We’re forced to submit to waves of shitty remakes crash against the rocks again and again, in the hopes that something decent might break through. When we do find something worthwhile in the genre, it’s usually in the form of an indie film with a minuscule release, or a foreign movie neglected because we’re all too lazy to read. It’s rare that a mainstream American horror film ends up actually being worthwhile.

The Crazies, though a remake itself, is a completely surprising and well-made horror effort that offers a clever new twist on the classic zombie genre. It’s tense, and genuinely frightening at times, and actually surpasses its original film in terms of quality.

The small farm town of Ogden Marsh turns from a picture of serenity to a burning, murderous hellhole in under forty eight hours. It all starts with a few townsfolk acting a bit off, turning mute and then unleashing unrepentant violence on their friends and families. The madness soon spreads and town sheriff David (Timothy Olyphant) and his wife, the local doctor, Judy (Radha Mitchell), must gather as many of their friends as they can and escape the nightmare.

However, when the source of the pandemic is revealed to be government created (trust me, not a major twist in the film), the majority of the movie involves both the evasion of their demented neighbors, but also teams of US soldiers, sent in to contain the infection by any means necessary, and unfortunately their means usually involve lots of automatic weapons fire and flamethrowers. It’s a movie that where you look at where it starts and where it ends, you’ll hardly even believe where you end up by the finale.


“Don’t be alarmed, we’re just here to cure you. With fire.”

The first half of The Crazies is pure horror genius. It’s a different take on zombie-dom, where instead of being undead and stupid, the Crazies are very much motor-functional, as you’ll see by their propensity to problem solve and use a vast array of power tools. Seeing a father burn his own family alive, or a school principal impale helpless patients at a makeshift hospital makes for some truly terrifying moments.

I had an interesting thought during these parts of the film, that this is what M. Night Shyamalan’s disastrous The Happening should have been. Sure, these folks are homicidal rather than suicidal, but it’s similar behavioral patterns, but instead of being laughable, the film is generally pretty terrifying and unnerving. Maybe it’s that Timothy Olyphant can act circles around Mark Wahlberg, and government experiments trump evil, vengeful plants, but The Crazies really is the movie that The Happening aspired to be.


One of the scariest scenes I’ve seen in recent memory.

But once the second half of the film comes around, and the focus shifts from combat to escape, the pace of the thing slows way, way down, as we’re treated to long stretches of the survivors trudging through fields, avoided army patrols and suffering from exhaustion. Sure, every so often, they’ll throw in a zombie encounter to wake you up, but it feels a bit forced, like one particular car wash scene that effectively preys on every four-year-old’s greatest fear (those things did used to be terrifying), but really only seems like a time filler.

It’s also unfortunate the movie feels the need to modify the disease for the sake of the plot as time goes on. In the beginning, once the Crazies are infected, the behavioral change is instant, they become spaced out, and eventually completely mute and murderous. But later in the film, the line between infected crazy and regular crazy is blurred, and anyone acting jumpy is now suspect of having the virus. Infected people talk, and make threats and are paranoid, giving justification for their murderous rampages. You might explain this away as tangential madness being brought on by the ACTUAL infected, but once the veins start bursting out of their faces, you know the movie wants you to think they’ve legitimately got the bug. It’s a completely different set of symptoms from what was set up at the film’s outset, and though it does move the plot forward, it just seems very inconsistent and it bothered me quite a bit.


Just take a little Robitussin and that’ll knock that right out.

But really, that’s a pretty minor gripe, and I can’t let it overshadow what is a legitimately well done horror remake. Most new and worthwhile entries into the genre are original stories, so to see a remake that’s actually good is a rare sight to behold, and the last one I can actually remember before this as surpassing its predecessor was Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. And funny, that was Romero too. Call me a blasphemer if you like, but the man inspires better films than his own, what can I say?

3.5 out of 5 stars

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  1. I really liked this movie, and a lot had to do with Timothy Olyphant. The dude can act, plain and simple, and I totally bought him as the small town sherriff.

    The scene in the car wash was particularly well done, and the cinematography overall was of a much higher quality than you’d expect for a horror movie.

  2. I thought this movie was completely mediocre. It seems so good because every thing else is so bad. It’s competent with a few good scenes, but it is utterly predictable. You know when a zombie will appear from behind by how the shot is framed and when it gets quiet you know a sudden noise will (BOO!) scare you. In that sense, it was very mundane.

    And why do survivors in these situations always sneak up on each other, why purely to scare the audience of course. They do that at least 3 or 4 times in this movie. If my buddy and I are being chased by zombies and we’re carrying guns, the last thing I’m going to do is come up to him from behind while he is looking for out for zombies and touch his shoulder.

    I did like how the zombies kept their personality and motor skills. The best scene in the movie is in the coroners office, when Olyphant is lifting up the sheets on the corpses. That actually did creep me out a little.

  3. I would recommend going back and re-watching the original. It is a fantastic movie, and very intense.

    I was very disappointed in the remake. I thought it had a lot of potential, but didn’t live up to it. It did have some cool shit in it, just overall didn’t do a whole lot right.

  4. “Maybe it’s that Timothy Olyphant can act circles around Mark Wahlberg..”

    really?? i have banana’s in my refrigerator that can act better than both of them combined. they’re pretty good bananas.

    I will say they aren’t the worst actors, but c’mon!

    That statement is like saying ray charles could find waldo faster than stevie wonder

  5. If anyone is really into zombies, I recomend anything by Max Brooks pertaining to the subject. I heard they are taking his book, World War Z and making it into a movie. (By the way, he is the son of THE Mel Brooks.)World War Z is basically the zombie tale we all have wished would exist, the one that takes it from patient zero to the American Army’s attempts at quelling the zombies, how the plague spreads world wide and then the rebuilding effort after we “win”.

    Also, Robert Kirkman’s “Walking Dead” comic is nothing short of amazing. AMC started production on the TV show and I’m crossing my fingers they keep it black and white.

  6. don’t you mean Timothy Olyphantastic? i love him, i think it started with “Scream 2” and progressed with “Go”.

    good review, you made me want to see it even more.

  7. I just saw this yesterday, and I had one major complaint about it. By the way, SPOILER ALERT, if you haven’t seen it. For the life of me I can’t understand why they would waste all the time and money in evacuating the whole county if they were just gonna nuke the place anyway. I mean if they were gonna try and pull out the people that were not affected and relocate them that would be one thing, but they just ended up killing everyone anyway. Yeah there wouldn’t have been a movie if that were the case, but it just seems wasteful of government funds. The Republicans would have pitched a fit.

  8. Just to chime in on the Timothy Olyphant issue, I have to say I absolutely agree with your take on him. I think that he is a really competent performer, and I rarely see him turn in a performance that I do not enjoy watching. He’s often the brightest part of some pretty mediocre movies. (The previously mentioned Hitman.) I think the best way to describe him is as an entertaining actor. He always manages to turn in a performance that I find engaging and entertaining in spite of working in some limited roles. He has a charisma about him that I find very hard to avoid. Plus, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, he’s a handsome looking guy. Mr. Olyphant gets top marks all around from me.

  9. I did not like this movie, and I love zombie movies. First thing I thought was it ripped of 30 Days of Night (stuck in a small town, hero is the sheriff, hottie blonde wife the doctor). Secondly, the first to get infected couldn’t talk or seem to think about anything but killing, but by the end, they’re driving trucks, making traps (the rope in the car wash) and remembering the sheriff killed their dad. Why would they army pull out what seemed to be hundreds of soldiers from the high school instead of shooting everyone then, since that what they ended up doing anyyway? And i loved after the wife is left alone and tied up, they get to the truck stop and he says wait here, I’ll check it out. And why did the deputy pull a gun on them? This movie had a great premise, but did not follow through.

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