The Crazies

Directed by Breck Eisner

Starring Timothy Olyphant, Rahda Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Michelle Panabaker

Written by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright based on the story by George Romero

The Crazies is a taut, well-paced, science fiction movie that comes close enough to classic, one would be hard pressed to emerge from this film without a feeling of exhausted accomplishment.  The movie takes no cheap shots and makes the clichés they use seem mostly fresh and worthwhile.  It’s characters and the town they occupy feel well lived in.  I found myself envious of the friendship between Olyphant’s Sheriff Dutton and his Deputy Russell Clank (Anderson).  Their conversations are subtle and full of nuance, serving as exposition and scenery at the same time.  I’ve been a fan of Olyphant’s work since Scream 2.  He has a talent for downplaying his apparent true feelings for what is necessary at the time.

It feels like everyone has a history with each other in this town.

Rhada Mitchel plays Mrs. Dutton, who is a town doctor, takes in a patient that is seemingly catatonic.  She misinterprets the empirical information to the detriment of the patient’s family and herself.  The signs are so subtle, they sometimes take a reveal shot to garner the information that the smarter characters figure out before you.  I like this, too.  These characters, somewhat hickish, are by no means stupid.  This helps to make terse scenes more believable and much more horrific.  They don’t drop the gun when danger appears to have passed, and the danger does not come from the obvious places.

Authority comes across exactly as believable as it might be in the post-Bush era.  Curiously, in doing about the same thing that the hack directors did in the steaming pile known as Alien Versus Predator: Requiem, the progression here seems much more logical and, as a result more consuming.  This is partly because the scenes leading up to the climax are so intense and claustrophobic, it makes you forget that anything else is going on.  The mortuary, the school / concentration camp and the car wash scenes would have been the highlight of any other film, but they are just parts to the puzzle here.

Hitchin’ a ride

To be sure, this movie is not perfect.  The end solution, like any final solution scene pushes the willing suspension of disbelief over the limit.  And the scene in the big semi truck and the nuclear explosion is no more believable here than in the last Indiana Jones film.  Difference here is, there was very little in the Spielberg / Lucas effort that rewarded common sense. Brock Eisner spends the movie to that point building believable scene after believable scene into a crescendo of tension built on the feeling that you are viewing a possible reality.

I will not forget experiencing this movie anytime soon.

(**** out of  *****)

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