Speaking of remakes: The Crazies

I am far removed from George Romero’s original The Crazies, having only viewed it once and with little interest. It wasn’t specifically that it was too talky (it most certainly was). It was that it was too shouty, if that is a word (it most certainly isn’t). Must everyone shout about everything?! But I digress…

Breck Eisner’s fine remake features better acting and far less shouting. Not that there isn’t plenty of cause for shouting given that something is making the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa go insane at an alarming rate. What might that something be? Somebody dropped something into something? Someone accidentally flipped a switch on the something or other? Somebody ate a radioactive sandwich? It is pretty inconsequential, actually. There are zombies. Well, not exactly zombies, but let’s not split hairs.

The story is pretty clearly defined by its three-act structure. The first act involves the town’s deterioration, the second an attempt to contain the virus, and third its post-apocalyptic aftermath. It is not entirely successful at any of these three scenarios, but much of that has to do with its 101 minute running time and not its execution.

There are several, highly effective set pieces here. For example, there is a chilling scene where the town doctor, played by Radha Mitchell, is strapped to a gurney surrounded by several others suffering from various stages of the virus. One of them giggles relentlessly as another of the crazies slowly shambles amongst them with an already bloodied pitchfork. You can infer he is not looking to bale hay. Another is one of the scariest car wash scene I’ve ever seen.

It is funny to see a film that is so completely conventional in its approach and entertaining despite that. Bottom line: If you have seen one zombie movie, you have seen them all. This one happens to be pretty good even though there are no zombies in it. Hair-splitter.

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