George A. Romero’s original The Crazies was never exactly one of his best works as a director even though it is still entertaining enough while it lasted, but it’s easy to see why it earned the status of a cult classic. In 2010, Breck Eisner came around to offer his own spin on the same story and the results that come out not only result in one of the best examples of a horror movie remake in recent years but one that also is a good film at that. Breck Eisner’s take on George A. Romero’s The Crazies is not only something better than it even has much right to be and quite amazingly, it’s actually a rather solid ride. It may not be a great film at that, but even the original is not a film I would view under such a light.
The Crazies was a film about the Trixie virus and how its spread has affected an entire town’s population by either killing those hit with its symptoms or turning the affected into homicidal maniacs. We watch the film from the perspectives of the townspeople who have managed to survive the plague, a small group that includes Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, and Danielle Panabaker – who have been residents in Ogden Marsh, Pierce County, Iowa, an area which once had been seen as the “friendliest place on earth.” Nothing particularly different has been done to what Romero had originally created in his own take on the same story, aside from some name and location changes – which are not particularly significant.
What makes The Crazies so effective is the fact that it mixes in enough thrills both as an action piece and a horror piece, making for an entertaining ride from start to finish. Yet on a count that given what Breck Eisner knows what to do so well, he also manages to create a remake that finds itself on par with the original because he creates a good understanding of what made the original work perfectly and at the same time, he made something that distinctly felt much more like his own spin on the same story rather than a blatant retread beat for beat. It is not a film without its flaws, but then again, the original was also very heavily problematic for all the entertainment value it has.
It’s also worth noting that this remake of The Crazies chooses to go down the path of a horror film rather than an action-horror which Romero had aimed for in the original, giving a more coherent and distinctive flow. Yet much like the original, it also creates an indistinguishable feeling when looking upon groups of people, for we are never sure of who exactly to trust and who not to. The makeup work, especially on those who have fully succumbed to the Trixie virus, is absolutely stunning, and one of the very best things that The Crazies has going for it – and knowing how much of this could have been improved from the original film, it was nice to see that so much more effort compared to many other horror remakes had come out on Breck Eisner’s end.
Where the film suffers however, is still clear – as much like the original film, certain character arcs are not nearly as compelling as those of others within the group. If anyone, however, were to stand out from the bunch, it would be none other than Timothy Olyphant, who does a stellar job at establishing a fine line between sanity and insanity. Yet for how much has come out of his character arc, some of the others are never particularly as compelling, and thus their deaths end up leaving no real impact on the viewer. I also rather greatly disliked the ending sequence, because I was only thinking to myself that it was something that could have come by so much earlier – and it came in a manner that it was convenient for our lead characters.
Problems aside, this remake of The Crazies lands amongst the better horror remakes to have come by in recent years and that’s saying quite a lot. Breck Eisner understands all of the most effective aspects of George A. Romero’s original and in turn, he decides to give the film his own spin rather than play out as a blatant retread upon beat. In some manner, he also manages to improve upon where the original ends up failing but he also succumbs to one of the most critical that sunk down the original source. Nevertheless, in an age where good horror seems to be visible only to those who know where to look, The Crazies lands among the better – a modern horror remake that’s actually quite solid for once. Better than the original, though, that’s arguable.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Participant Media.
Directed by Breck Eisner
Screenplay by Scott Kosar, Ray Wright, from the 1973 film by George A. Romero
Produced by Michael Aguilar, Dean Georgaris, Rob Cowan
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker
Release Year: 2010
Running Time: 101 minutes