The Crazies DVD Review

There are remakes, then there are Romero remakes.

While rather pointless, remakes of George A. Romero films are surprisingly enjoyable – step forward Zack Snyder’s stylish action-filled remake of Dawn of the Dead. And while Breck Eisner’s The Crazies remake follows in this vein, one can’t help but feel frustrated. While it is praise indeed to say that a remake has surpassed the original, the original in this case was a deeply flawed work just waiting to be remade. Romero’s original The Crazies had a great concept behind it that was fluffed in its execution and while Eisner’s remake is better executed, he by no means goes far enough in the exploration of Romero’s original idea.

Meet the crazies

The story follows small town Sheriff, David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his Doctor wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell), his Deputy Russell (Joe Anderson) and receptionist Becca (Danielle Panabaker) as they watch their neighbours literally go crazy as they fall victim to a viral madness. With the army trying to contain them, and their mad neighbours trying to kill them, they must try to find a way out of their infected town.

The good stuff

The film does build beautifully as it charts the pandemic’s progression from affecting one person to the whole town, and the slow-built beginning has a wonderfully eerie atmosphere. The pandemic story is executed with surprising intelligence and a great awareness of its relevance to a modern day audience. But what really makes the film is Timothy Olyphant, who creates much empathy and depth for the thinly sketched in character of the Sheriff. As well as having the presence of Olyphant going in its favour, The Crazies – unlike so many other horror remakes – remembers to actually scare its audience. There are two particularly stand-out set-piece scenes – one involving a terrified Radha Mitchell strapped to a gurney awaiting to be pitch-forked by a crazy, and the other at a carwash, which has a sudden, brutal outcome.

Not crazy enough

While Eisner keeps tension’s high, it is naturally a tad predictable. Involving but never really gripping, the atmosphere changes in the second half when the infected behave to all intents and purposes like zombies. The Crazies sets up an original and creepy beginning as it charts the townsfolk’s slow and individualized progression into madness, and then squanders this atmosphere in favour of creating a run of the mill zombie film. An improvement, but not as good as it could be, perhaps in another forty years time, The Crazies will get the treatment it deserves. Until then, Eisner’s suitably scary stab at it will do nicely.

DVD Extras

– Feature commentary with director, Breck Eisner (thorough, interesting and well worth a listen)
Behind the Scenes with Breck Eisner featurette
Paranormal Pandemics featurette
The George A. Romero Template featurette
Make-up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action featurette
The Crazies’ Motion Comic – two chapters that work as a prequel, provinding background information and further victim’s stories.
Visual Effects in Motion featurette
-Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery

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