Some will, and probably have, characterized The Crazies as a zombie-film without zombies. This means it has all the creepy dead-eyed killers, but with the added element of the unknown. It might even make you reevaluate your zombie-apocalypse survival plan.
It’s a remake of a 1973 George Romano movie, but I haven’t seen it so we’ll skip the discussion on remakes. The plot is fairly simple: the people in a small town in rural America start behaving oddly, and it’s up to Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) to figure out what’s happening. Soon the town is not only overrun by “crazies”, but by a government agency, keen to contain the situation at all costs. Our group of potential survivors must therefore do battle on two fronts, so to speak.
It’s really the nature of the crazies that make this a good film. For one thing, they’re not zombies (none of them die before they go crazy), so you have the overhanging moral question of how to decide that your best friend is a crazy, and when do you blow his brains out? Not only that, but they keep some of their original personality, which initially creeped me out more than I had anticipated. Picture a zombie with a personal grudge against you. That thought certainly gave me the shivers.
The acting is also fairly solid, but then I’ve always found Timothy Olyphant charming. All the actors are believable as small-towners desperate to escape from big government and crazies alike. I do wish we had seen more of the government agents, as you can’t help but sort of agree with them that the situation does need to be contained. The film does open up the question of forced sacrifice for the greater good, but I think it cuts it a little short, probably because the protagonists are too busy trying to survive.
With any blood and gore film, I can’t stop myself from commenting on the deaths. Some of them had me properly cringing and holding my breath in anticipation of a great shot. With the crazies being smarter than your average zombie, you get more than just your average brain-eaters. Since they don’t want to eat you, they just want you dead in a variety of different ways.
For me, this film rolls a strong 4, but I have a feeling I’m being my usual generous self, always trying to roll 6’s. If you’re a zombie purist this might not be for you. I say if you come across it, give it a go.
Dice roll: 3