61 Days of Halloween: The Crazies (2010)

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

First, a comment on The Crazies’ status as yet another film in a long line of remakes: after having recently seen George A. Romero’s original film The Crazies (1973) I no longer opposed this remake. Typically they should be looked at on a film-by-film basis and the original could be improved on, so this was fine in theory if not in fact.

This film starts very strongly with some very notable scoring and some chilling scenes starting with the inciting incident on the baseball field. Most of the action in the beginning flows through Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) and it makes the mystery and horror very tight and close to the vest. The myopic view of the film allows for a very successful build in the horror as many of the characters we meet early fall prey to the disease.

The missteps begin kind of like an avalanche, one little rock rolls out of place and several other things follow. The first of these is that the jump to the assumption of contaminated drinking water is made very quickly, too quickly; it’s debated before they put a finger on anything else. Also, a touch at the beginning with the military satellite views and read outs in are a strength of the film and later they are a detriment because the military is too anonymous in this case.

Around the time when the city becomes occupied by the military, which sets up its perimeter to contain the infection, the film starts to suffer. Those we assume to be uninfected are trying to escape but they take unnecessary detours and the pace starts to suffer with many drawn out skirmishes with small victorious moments of brilliance interspersed among the trite stock episodes.

It is ultimately cannot avoid the trappings of a virus film, which is essentially a zombie movie with a different enemy. There are suspicions of who is infected, killing first and asking questions later, and unease in the survivors and aside from trying to offer unique kills nothing exciting is added to the equation. As is the case with all of these films nothing is ever over, which means we could get more Crazies which would be unfortunate indeed.

Even with the military moving in and posing a threat they are like rats in a maze just trying to avoid dead ends where they can be caught and killed, and there is no light shone upon the townspeople’s situation for far too long. While it can be to a film’s advantage to have the audience know things characters don’t, this takes far too long and slows the film down because the characters do need to find out in order to act at some point. So if we’re ahead of the tale and have to wait for the characters to catch up that’s not good.

There was, however, a goodly amount of intended humor and good acting, especially for the horror genre, in this film. It’s just a shame the material doesn’t quite live up to their capabilities and the early promise the film showed, it truly was a textbook first act but unfortunately for The Crazies films have three.

5/10

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