Monday Movie: The Crazies by @lexx2099

If your plan is to make an all-action popcorn flick, the Holocaust isn’t a port of call most directors would consider making, but Breck Eisner’s Romero reboot somehow manages to make it a completely acceptable analogy even while we’re watching Radha Mitchell fight off bands of bat-shit locals with a pitchfork.

While Eisner can’t quite match Romero for grimness –or Zack Sneider for all out thrills – he’s still managed to pump out a taught and nasty piece of work that’s a million miles from its nearest modern-day relatives; the claggy likes of Silent Hill.

Eisner takes a serial approach to his source material, meandering through a world where insanity is a transmittable disease, and takes the time to explore the wonderfully-creepy scenario in depth, although the pacing makes for a few awkward moments and character development suffers because of it –but hey, this is a horror flick, we don’t want characters, we want lunatics ripping each other’s faces off!

At the heart of the action, Timothy Olyphant makes an unusual, but solid, choice as a thoroughly-bemused sheriff doing his best to keep his pregnant wife Mitchell out of harms way, while the rest of the inhabitants of the small town of Ogden Marsh take to giggling, pissing their pants and getting up to all sorts of cat-in-closet-moment mischief.

As the mentalism spreads the film ramps things up into all-out war, those old Romero stand-bys The Military eschewing common sense and compassion in favour of some disgusting but great balls-to-the-wall action scenes, and although we never really find out much about our leads beyond their job titles, the second act is full of some great tests of character – Mitchell strapped down and fending off loonies in the local hospital a particular standout. In the background we get some extra-creepy filler scenes, Olyphant meandering through the deserted streets on his way – as you do – to the local morgue. The drop in pace as we approach act three gives much needed philosophical breathing space, the real scares coming not from the lunatic violence but from scenes depicting the government bar-coding the infected and sticking them in concentration camps rather than attempting to cure them.

The science behind the mass-weirdy outbreak is sketchy, B-Movie trash, but it’s all played straight and works as a great MacGuffin as we head toward an uneasy climax that’s up there with The Thing in terms of uncertain outcomes. Overall this is a fast-paced thriller of a remake that plays fast and loose with the source material but revisits familiar Romero themes in a stylish, exciting and involving manner – definitely a cut above the current crop of horror remakes.

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