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The Crazies

The Crazies

What he said:

He

Ogden Marsh, Iowa is a picturesque town. It’s the kind of town where the entire town – including local law enforcement – comes out to watch the local high school baseball team’s home opener. They literally have nothing bigger to worry about. It’s the storybook kind of town. I wouldn’t mind living there minus the whole “crazies” thing.

Well this fairytale is about to be turned into a nightmare, because “the crazies” will be coming out of the woodwork any minute now. It all starts with an isolated incident at the baseball game, but quickly begins to spread like a virus.

David (Timothy Olyphant) is the town’s sheriff and Russell (Joe Anderson) is his loyal deputy. Luckily for the townsfolk at the baseball game they are there and able to diffuse the situation. Ok, well not diffuse it, but end the threat. David and his wife Judy – the town’s doctor – begin to notice other people in town are acting strangely too. Soon after that another seemingly random act of violence occurs within this small town.
David suspects the two incidents might be connected, due to the similar behavior of the people who committed the crimes. He and Russell soon discover a plane that crashed in a swamp – a swamp that just so happens to feed into the town’s water supply. Hmm, could this be a coincidence?

The Crazies

Before David, Russell, and Judy (Radha Mitchell) can figure out what’s going on, the town is taken over by some sort of military. They don’t identify themselves, but have clearly instituted martial law. They begin shepherding people into groups and setting up makeshift quarantine zones in various places around town. It doesn’t matter that David is the sheriff, he’s lumped in with the rest of them. He is soon separated from his wife and Russell.

It doesn’t last too long though as the camps are overthrown by some of the towns people. The town is quickly turned into an all-out warzone. The factions consist of the military, the infected town’s people – who have turned into homicidal maniacs – and the non-infected who are caught in the middle.

David is eventually reunited with both his wife and his loyal deputy. The three of them also meet up with a young girl named Becca (Danielle Panabaker). Becca works Judy at her practice. None of that mattesr now though, as their town has descended into total chaos. They are on the run from the military, hiding from violent towns people who used to be their friends and neighbors, and trying to figure out how the two are connected.  

Ignore the title. It's easy to laugh the movie off if for no other reason than because it's called The Crazies.  I remember having fun with it before I saw the movie. “Watch out, the crazies are coming to get ya”, I’d say. I expected a shallow gore-fest. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually a really solid horror movie. It deals with paranoia, survival, and distrust of big government.  It’s like a lot of other zombie movies (they aren’t technically zombie movies, but explores similar themes), but it’s executed well, so you don’t care. The survivors go up against several different obstacles and are forced to make tough decisions. One minute they are running from the military that may or may not want to protect them from exposure to the infection, the next they are dealing with those affected by the infection – who seem to want nothing more than to simply kill people. They are raging lunatics who seem to have no motivation at all. That’s one thing that sets this movie apart from other zombies. Besides the fact that they aren’t zombies, these infected people are very much alive. They are now slow rotten creatures you can run around or easily knock down. They aren’t particularly smart, but they can still wield knives, guns, and other weapons. They are also stronger than the average person. It seems like they are running on adrenaline all the time and have a compulsion to kill.

The Crazies

I also didn’t know what to expect from the characters, but that was another pleasant surprise. Timothy Olyphant is a good actor. There’s just something about him I really like. He has a very strong screen presence. I’ve only seen him in a small handful of things – and none are particularly award worthy – but each and every time I see him he stands out. When I see him in a movie, it reminds me of why I wanted to check out Justified for so long – and I did I was not disappointed (review here). He comes off as a very calm and cool guy on screen, but he also handles situations like a boss too. Joe Anderson was also very solid as well. Between this and Justified, I officially have a bro crush on Olyphant. The guy is just cool. Speaking of boss, Russell turns into a real take-charge kind of guy when the infection hits. He becomes more confident and aggressive as society crumbles and problems between him and David are hinted at. The movie had more depth than I expected in that sense.

I have seen snippets of the original George Romero movie and I thought it was pretty ridiculous.  As this movie shows, the ideas and themes are fine, but it’s just a lame movie. In a world overrun by zombie/infected people movies, this is one of the better ones.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was updated for your reading pleasure on October 2, 2014.

What she said:

She

It’s that time of year again!  The He and I will begin indulging in more and more horror movies over the next month, as we creep closer to Halloween.  In fact, now that we have our house decorated, and the candy for trick-or-treaters has been bought, I’m saying, bring it on!  We started off the trend with a movie I consider to be one of the more decent entries into the genre over the last five years. 

The Crazies

The Crazies introduces viewers to the tiny town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa.  It’s everything you’d expect in rural America—close-knit, simple, and wholesome.  And yet, something doesn’t seem quite right.  All the town had turned out for a casual baseball game—totally normal— when one of the locals shows up with a gun and in a zombie-like state.  Sheriff David Dutten is in the crowd and is forced to defuse the situation.  When talking it out doesn’t work, he’s forced to shoot to kill.  It’s an extremely odd circumstance, particularly when the autopsy shows that the local didn’t have a speck of alcohol in his system.  And things are about to get even weirder…

Soon, Dutten is encountering more and more of these strange, catatonic, and growingly violent local citizens.  People who were totally normal hours earlier are turning into…well…zombies.  He collects his wife, and town doctor, Judy, and begins to investigate.  Before we know it, all hell is breaking loose, and don’t worry, the government is on top of it.  You see, David hears about a recent report of a place crash in a local river, and upon looking into it, finds out that it was a government plane.  He begins to link what’s happening to the townsfolk downstream to the water supply being tainted by something from the crash.  The appearance of the Army only confirms his fears. 

The government peeps begin to identify and separate the healthy from the ill.  The whole process screams conspiracy, and David becomes separated from Judy.  How vows to re-enter the hot zone and get her back, but he must do so while avoiding both the zombies and the Army, who have received a directive to kill upon sight.  David teams up with his trusty sidekick and deputy, Russell Clank, to get the heck out of town without being killed or turned.

The zombies in The Crazies are a special breed.  They’re not quite man-eating so much as they are torturous.  They like to kill others in uniquely horrible ways.  If fact, I don’t really recall them eating anyone.  They also get uglier and uglier the further along they are in the zombification process.  Bulging veins, putrid skin, crusty blood-like sputum—we’ve got it all. 

The Crazies

And this movie really has it all as well.  It’s decently written (for a horror flick), well acted, action-packed, and tugs a few heart strings along the way.  Not to mention that it’s actually pretty well shot.  It looks gritty, but not in a cheesy handycam way.  The scenes actually feel authentic.  And they could not have picked a better setting for all the drama to unfold.  It feels very “Middle America” in a creepy kind of way.

I wouldn’t say this movie is super scary.  It’s definitely high-gore and filled with thrills.  It’s not jump-out-of-your-seat frightening, but it does manage to throw some graphic images in your mind that will stick with you for a little bit.  You may have some zombie dreams after watching this one.

As mentioned, I thought the acting was pretty solid.  David Dutten is played by Timothy Olyphant, who I now know and love as Raylan Givens from Justified.  He still has a little bit of that Raylan swagger in this role, but he’s not quite as witty or reckless.  His wife is played by Radha Mitchell.  You may not recognize her name, but believe me, you’ve seen her before.  She pops up in movies and TV shows here and there.  Joe Anderson, a total unknown to me, plays Deputy Clank.  According to IMDB, he’s been in other stuff, but I don’t recall ever seeing him before.  Regardless, he’s pretty good, even though he becomes more and more unlikable as the movie goes on.

The Crazies is a good way to start out your Halloween movie season.  Spooky, but not too scary.  It’s entertaining and well-done.

Thumbs up.

The Crazies

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