Don’t Drink the Water! The Crazies Movie Review

27 Feb
2010

Beware! Don’t Drink the Water!

The Crazies Movie Review

Rated: R

Directed by: Breck Eisner

Ogden Marsh, with a population of 1,200, is just like any other small farm town, until the town drunk walks on the baseball field during a game with a shotgun in hand and a mysterious unsettling look in his eye. After a mysterious toxin contaminates the town’s water supply, death and mayhem ensue. The question is…who will survive?

Having never seen the original I came to this film with nothing to reference or compare and for this I was thankful. I was just hoping I wouldn’t be able to make a grilled cheese sandwich with it after I was done watching. Thankfully Breck Eisner’s (the son of ex-Disney head Michael Eisner) remake of George Romero’s 1973 movie does not resort to any cheesy ploys to get our attention.

What makes a good scary movie?  Suspense, blood, horror, interesting plot twists, frenzied action, cat and mouse hide and go seek chases, and the probability of the storyline actually happening. The Crazies has all of this and not one, but two central villains to worry about.

After the first incident when Sheriff David Dutton (played by Timothy Olyphant) must shoot a despondent Rory Gunfield, the town drunk, the movie picks up speed and never lets down.  The action is a slow motion snowball effect, creepy and unsettling, too calm at first, but this is what makes us frightened. You never know where danger lurks until it’s right upon the characters, and you jump in your seat. If you live in a small town and it unfortunately becomes contaminated by toxins, trust me, you’re not safe. The scariest aspect of the film is it could actually happen.

Graphic violence between the crazies and the sane can be compared to letting loose a hundred Mike Meyers on Xanax. However urgent in their plight to kill the unfortunate, there is a slight pause and serenity in their actions, which adds a very creepy aspect to their demented one-track mind killing.  In other ways the violence shown is reminiscent of historical atrocities which is made apparent in one scene, where we see the citizens who passed government inspection, being carted off in trucks with wooden slates. Eyes peer out from inside, hands slip through, fingers gripping the slates in panic and the first thing that comes to mind is the Holocaust. It was an eerie site, one that was quite disturbing. It is no surprise this was used in the film, as the original (released when the Vietnam War was still going on) also used political metaphors, ones for Communism and the Vietcong, and if they aren’t stopped, it will spread and become a problem.

The best scene set-up in this movie was the car wash scene, hands down. What Jaws did for people swimming in the ocean, this scene does for washing your car in a drive-through.  Tightly shot, enclosed in basically a tin can, movement at every angle, blind spots and crazy-ass folk coming in through the windows.  I was squirming in my seat. When you think it’s finally over, it’s topped off with a huge ‘holy sh*t’ moment. The movie is relentless.

Timothy Olyphant (Sheriff David Dutton), Radha Mitchell (who plays his pregnant wife Jody) and Joe Anderson (Russell Clark, David’s Deputy) really bite into their characters, with their portrayals well performed and anything but stero-typical.

With all this horror, the movie also blends in humor seamlessly, in just the right doses. The movie theater I was in provided another dose of humor that I shall share with you. Twenty minutes in, a male patron a few rows in front shouts out “Be quiet”, followed by a louder bellow “If you don’t simmer your child, I will come up there”, which was answered by a patron above and to the left of me, saying “Relax”. (All the while nothing was heard prior, so this argument was perplexing.) Another patron remarked that the male patron’s initial outburst was overboard. All was quiet, for five seconds, when someone else shouted out “Crazy!” Muffled laughter was heard round the audience.  It was classic.

Anyway, back to the movie. This remake was done right, unlike other attempts like ‘It’s Alive’, which was so altered and butchered, it’s not even worth watching once, or the Halloween remakes which do the original no justice. The Crazies can stand tall and proud next to its predecessor. If you want a good scare I recommend seeing this film.

Running time: 101 Minutes
Rating: 9/10 stars

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