It’s a shiny new dawn in sleepy Ogden Falls, Iowa. The small farming community is closing shop to take in the opening of baseball season with the home team. Then right in the middle of the game, some chowderhead walks onto the field packing a double-barreled shotgun. This is not good. Things get worse when the studly Sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) is forced to put the intruder down. It’s one hell of a way to start the day, but things are about to get much, much worse before they get better.
Actually, things don’t get better. Seems that the military-industrial complex has dumped a biological agent into the town’s water supply, and everyone in town has taken a quaff from Pandora’s water cooler. Which means that as the locals set about doing very rude things to each other, the military has to go all hazmat and open up a mini Guantánamo right in the Heartland.
While The Crazies isn’t a particularly ambitious horror film, it is a surprisingly acceptable Hollywood horror film. It adds nothing new to the apocalyptic genre, but at least it takes the premise seriously. A remake of zombiemeister George Romero’s 1973 quasi-zombie flick of the same name, the new The Crazies is at heart a subtle homage to ’70s horror films, without being a caricature. Which means that the vehicle might be a little too leisurely paced for folks used to shaky-cam and machine-gun editing. But Olyphant makes for a solid B-movie hero, and his supporting cast members have some refreshing lines on their faces.
Granted, it’s not perfectly acceptable. There are a few too many sneak-up-behind-you jump scares that become pretty silly after a while. Not to mention a “Behind you!” moment that rolls right past silly and becomes LOL. And the R rating is misleading for anyone expecting gut-crunching mayhem. Most of the deaths are implied or off-screen. No nudity, and if there was raw language, it didn’t register.
My main quibble was that the movie omits the breakdown of society. Just when the shit really begins to hit the fan … it cuts to the aftermath. It’s a common problem with zombie films, and it’s just plain frustrating. How society reacts to impending apocalypse is (for me) the most interesting aspect of the genre. Even if the crazies of Ogden Falls aren’t really zombies. But they’re close enough for rock ’n’ roll.