Review: The Crazies

* * *1/2 out of four stars

The best part about “The Crazies” is that it feels like a modern George A. Romero film. This is good, because it is based on an older George A. Romero film of the same name. Long-time readers of HB have probably noticed the fact that I’m not usually the one who reviews horror films. This is not because I don’t like them, it’s because I feel fellow founder Shaun O’Donnell is more qualified to rate the genre, seeing as how he owns and has seen more horror films than I have. But with this film, I took interest. It completely satisfied.

The trailers make it appear to be just another zombie movie, like Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” only with more action and less intelligence. But the use of Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World” in a montage of death and destruction made me curious. That song is one of my favorites, and any movie that uses it in the trailer must be worth a look.

It’s about a small Idaho town’s quick descent into a living hell, full of diseased residents who have lost all sense of reality and are now aggressive. In fact, the first to be infected, a local farmer, is so far gone that he walks onto a high school baseball diamond carrying a shotgun and threatens the town sheriff, who shoots him in the head. Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant, “Hitman”) is traumatized by the experience, but finds himself tending to a whole town of innocent folk, who seem to gradually become hostile.

David and his deputy, Russell (Joe Anderson, “Across the Universe”), inspect further and find a crashed plane in the local swamp, along with a dead pilot not far away. The town is quickly falling into madness, and the only conceivable conclusion is that the plane was carrying a contaminant and is infecting the city’s drinking water. Soon, David and Russell are hopping around town trying to find a solution… when the government gets involved and quarantines the whole city. That’s when David, Russell and David’s wife (Radha Mitchell, “Pitch Black”) escape from the government facility and begin running through a plagued city trying to escape with their lives.

Romero takes the executive producer credit and at the helm is Breck Eisner (“Sahara,” the upcoming “Flash Gordon” remake). Eisner proves himself as a filmmaker with this one. The film is not stylish to the point of nauseating, it’s graphic without showing too much and it moves at the perfect pace, never too slow and not incredibly fast.

Performances from all three leads are top-notch. Timothy Olyphant is always good in an action film as is Radha Mitchell. Joe Anderson almost steals the show as Russell, though I won’t reveal why. His performance is believable and memorable.

“The Crazies” is not raking in the cash, and won’t be in theaters much longer. I highly recommend you hurry to see it. It makes for one of the best horror films in a long, long time.

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