Ogden Marsh is Hollywood’s typical snapshot of small-town, Podunk, Midwest America. Located in Iowa, it’s the kind of place where hunting, pickups, farming, the gentle smell of manure and voting Republican are generally the norm. It’s the type of town without strangers, where kids ride bicycles gleefully and without fear down Main Street, and where the entire town shows up to cheer on the high school baseball team. It’s idyllic, old-fashioned and charming. And when The Crazies opens you already know how this film is going to turn out; this Normal Rockwell-esque hamlet is about to get it’s ass kicked.
The Crazies is a remake of a 1973 movie with the same name, written and directed by George Romero, the brains behind Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and most recently, Diary of the Dead (2008). Romero is credited as a writer for the remake and both stories are basically the same: The inhabitants of a small town start going murderously cuckoo, the government barricades the area, and a man and his pregnant wife have to escape both their nutjob neighbors and the conspiring government handymen, dead set on leaving no trace of the mysterious toxin infecting the town’s citizens.
Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard) and Radha Mitchell (Surrogates) portray David and Judy Dutton, the town sheriff and town doctor, respectively. We know from the beginning they will make it to the end credits alive because they are both good looking, smart, young and, more importantly, soon-to-be parents. After Sheriff Dutton is forced to shoot a shotgun-wielding citizen during a high school baseball game, everything begins to unravel, and Dutton, along with his trusty deputy, Russell Clank (Joe Anderson), soon discover a crashed military plane has infected the area’s water supply and is turning people into raving, zombie-like lunatics. You might think that’s spoileriffic, but you’d be wrong – The Crazies isn’t a whodunit, it’s a thrill ride, nothing more and nothing less, and the only questions are who will make it out and what horrors will they go through to survive. That, supposedly, is the fun of the movie.
Breck Eisner (Sahara) is the man behind the lens this time around and he does an adequate job of constructing a predictably tense modern horror movie, but the keyword in that sentence is predictable. I knew in the first 10 minutes of the movie who would live and who would die. There are no plot twists, no shocking revelations and that’s a-ok by me. I wasn’t looking for a cinematic masterpiece. However, after the first two or three stops on the scare train, the movie grows a little tiresome and the obviousness of the story feels more like weight than lighthearted fluff.
In a nutshell, The Crazies is just ok. It’s vanilla. It’s Cheerios. It’ll be a nice blip on the box office radar and a fantastic date movie, but soon enough it’ll be one of the movies you skip over at the Redbox and cable and eventually completely forgotten.