Sunday 28 February 2010

Review: The Crazies

Year: 2010
Director: Breck Eisner
Screenplay: Scott Kosar, Ray Wright
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker

Plot Synopsis is here

I'm becoming more and more mellow about the amount of horror remakes that are being churned out in the last few years. I'm theorizing that the works of Craven, Carpenter, Romero et all are being redone as tributes to what are clearly recognized as modern genre classics. I mean how many takes of Dracula has there been? Perhaps I'm being naive, but then if I think like this I at least going into these films with even more of an open mind. As I've said before, I don't mind them as long as they're done well

The Crazies; yet another remake of an older cult horror film is one I consider to be well done. Starting quickly and landing us straight into the action, Breck Eisner sets the scene competently, giving off a vibe reminiscent of the 50's version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The film works best with it's simple moments, much like a similar film of it's ilk: Pontypool. A repeated phase here, a glazed stare there, irregular whistling that unsettling feeling you get when the normal is askew exists in the films opening act and if it were to continue down that road I would have already have signed up for the special edition home release. Alas the film does go down cliche alley at times, with the odd info dump scattered about, and telling moments of horror familiarity, such is life.

However the film is crafted well enough to keep the tension raised and my interest peaked and although it doesn't capture Romero's more nihilistic tone, it does manage to give off an absurd uncertainty to the proceedings.

Visually Eisner doesn't nothing particularly new, but he clearly releases the importance of sound in a horror film. The churning of the massive combine, the scraping of knives and rakes, isolated moments of silence, it works well and it's the combination of these other moments of sound that make the usual zinger sound of the jump scare a little more effective. In fact the jump scares aren't bad here although still a little too easily telegraphed.

Cast wise, we in good hands. Timothy Olyphant is a consistent actor and once again puts in what you would not only expect from him but from the part as well. A villain or anti-hero in many films, Olyphant is allowed the chance to roam around as the do-good sheriff and doesn't put a foot wrong.

Many talk about the various strung out mother roles of Vera Farmiga but spare a thought for the genre queen that Radha Mitchell. Roles like the one she has here are her bread and butter and once again she pulls it out of the bag. Same goes for Danielle Panabaker whose clearly at home with material like this (see Friday the 13th remake or Mr Brooks). Bringing up the rear is Joe Anderson giving us the comic relief that comes as standard with this sort of affair but his animated display is a great distraction and for me he comes into his own by the end of the film.

As yet another entry into the diseased body sub-genre The Crazies has it's fair share of scares and a creepy unease that flows through the film. It doesn't have the guts of a Pontypool and the film could really be more anarchic in the later moments, but as a whole, The Crazies is solid piece of b-horror madness.