From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Crazies - B

Rated R for bloody violence and language, 101 minutes

Spirited Romero remake "Crazies" provides some good jumps

You'd be crazy to remake a film from acclaimed horror master George A. Romero, and even crazier to think that it might be any good. But that's what has happened with the energetic horror romp "The Crazies," a remake of the 1973 Romero film about some people in a small midwest town acting strange after a mysterious toxin infiltrates their water. It's not a smart film, falling prey to some standard horror film cliches in the last act, but there are more than enough squeamish jolts up until then to lift it a notch above most in this genre.

Timothy Olyphant ("A Perfect Getaway") is David, a sheriff of an Iowa town, his newly expectant wife Judy ("Surrogates" Radha Mitchell) is the town doctor. People start acting strangely and a few dead bodies end up in the morgue. They soon realize that their water supply has been contaminated by a mysterious chemical that essentially turns people to a zombie-like state.

The U.S. government, fully aware of the situation, quickly puts the townspeople on lockdown and isolating those they fear are contaminated. David and Judy, along with David's squirrly deputy Russell (Joe Anderson) and Judy's assistant (Danielle Panabaker) they're on the run to safe ground before they're killed by the infected or by the military.

"The Crazies" is a jumpy, nutty horror reinvention of Romero's low-budget cult favorite with a few genuinely scary moments. And who would've thought this coming from a largely untested director like Breck Eisner, who's only major film was the flop "Sahara," not to mention the fact he's Michael Eisner's (yes, that Michael Eisner, the former Disney chief) son. And on top of that, it's not really an all-out zombie film per se, while the infected have a zombie demeanor they don't want to eat you, just kill you.

Romero (who served as executive producer here) probably envisoned something on a larger scale than this, yet as a horror film mixed with paranoid sci-fi notions a la "District 9," it doesn't work as well. It works better as a small-scale horror flick with survival as the real objective, and there's a scattershot of memorable scenes, most of which come early on. The tense, up close struggle in the funeral home, or that jumpy ride through a car wash or that tight struggle with two of the infected in a small room of the house, all of which provide the film with some lively moments. The single biggest (and most surprising) jolt, however, comes immediately following the car wash scene courtesy of a fighter jet which will leave you breathless.

Familiar second-string actors Olyphant and Mitchell are a solid horror film heroes , though largely unknown British actor Anderson nearly steals the show in a manic sidekick performance that's sure to draw notice ("You have to make sure," he says as he puts a round of bullets in a couple of the infected).

"The Crazies" is a flimsy paranoid government cover-up film, and it nearly falls apart in the film's last section, when it gives way to some standard horror film cliches (OK, let's go check things out in a big, dark truck stop, there's sure to be safety there, yea sure) that'll have you rolling your eyes or chuckling unintentionally. But up to that last section, "The Crazies" is actually a decent, skittishly bloody film that may find an audience on Romero's name alone.