The Crazies - Blu-ray Review

'a horror film that feels more expansive than the confines of its 'lonely town in the Mid-West' setup'

The Crazies has gained the largely positive reputation of being the classic horror remake that it's OK to like, a byline that, whilst quite fitting for Breck Eisner's remake of George Romero's 1973 film, is hardly a heady stamp of approval as to its overall quality.

Despite being lumbered with the 'remake' tag and everything that brings, credit is due to Eisner for his efforts to break away from Romero's original vision and establish his own style of film in an over-crowded marketplace. Plumbing for constant wide angle shots and several moments of artistic indulgence from cinematographer Maxime Alexandre, Eisner creates a horror film that feels more expansive than the confines of its 'lonely town in the Mid-West' setup, perhaps even reaching out to broaden its appeal beyond the core horror fan base and into more regular thriller territory, despite what the marketing campaign wants you to believe.

Eisner's problem with this approach however, is that, in the end, he hasn't made a particularly scary horror film. Several great shots of crazy townsfolk lurking in the shadows are atmospheric and ratchet up the tension but beyond one or two 'jumps' and the same number of extended key scenes or gore moments, The Crazies only scares about half as much as it thrills.

Thankfully though, Eisner has got the stars to save The Crazies from inertia and Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell make the film work on several levels, turning in sympathetic performances as the town sheriff and doctor respectively. Olyphant is quickly becoming a star in his own right and a compare and contrast between this and his last role in A Perfect Getaway shows that he's an actor with both range and presence. Mitchell has done this sort of stuff before in, most notably, Silent Hill, but also brings elements of her performances from Man On Fire and Pitch Black into play, again producing a very human performance which never becomes annoying or threatens to be marginalised.

Whilst not quite the out-and-out horror film that it initially seemed to be then, The Crazies is a successful remake and a admirably paranoid thriller, released perhaps a smidgen too late to capitalise on the pre-Obama governmental scepticism and lacking the need for more drama to lift it to the next level.

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'The one thing the Crazies have going for them is that you can't tell at first who's been infected and who hasn't. This is the trump card that this film doesn't use enough' - Slacker Cinema, 3/5

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