Friday, July 02, 2010

The Crazies - Heart-Thumping Thriller

Here's a break from my blogs for seniors. It's a review of the movie "The Crazies."

My heart was thumping as I watched the action in The Crazies unfold. Although marketed as a horror movie, Breck Eisner’s remake of the 1973 George Romero film struck me as more of an intelligent thriller with some bloody scenes. What makes this movie particularly good is how it takes the point of view of the protagonists, a local sheriff David Dutton and his doctor wife, played by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, as they are confronted by more and more of their friends and neighbors strangely changing into vengeful, unstoppable killers. They, along with the deputy and his girlfriend, slowly realize that they seem to be immune to the epidemic which is taking over the good people of Ogden Marsh, Iowa. At the same time, they find they are also cut off from communicating with the world beyond its borders.

Soon, they’re not just running from the local population, which is becoming steadily more crazy and murderous, but also from government troops who have moved in to quarantine the town and annihilate all the infected residents. It turns out that a military plane crash unleashed a bio weapon into the town’s water supply, and the government has to stop its spread and the knowledge of the catastrophe. The premise of a U.S.-made bio weapon getting loose, its devastating effects on the humans living there and the government’s heavy-handed response all seem plausible, when you think of recent environmental disasters.

I thought Eisner directed his characters and action well and developed high tension with some really cringe-inducing scenes and surprises. The acting was much better than a typical horror film. I particularly liked
how the film’s creators interspersed calm, personal sequences, like the sheriff waking up with his wife in their peaceful house, summer breezes blowing the curtains, with sudden scenes of violence. The scenes of
surprising or unrelenting attacks truly had me gasping and tensing up far more than I do in most movies. I had actually thought this kind of movie making was dead, but I’m glad to see it isn’t.

I also really liked how the production design (art direction) aided in creating the bucolic feel of the Iowa prairie, in contrast to the bloody mayhem and military response.  And I enjoyed the percussive score written by Mark Isham. Isham created music that sounded at times like the bells of a railroad crossing. I loved that because it evoked the image of fast-moving, unstoppable danger, and you’re stuck at the RR crossing, just watching.  He also wrote lovely melodies for the calmer, more personal parts of the film, again, helping to create more suspense and a sense of dread.

If you missed The Crazies when it was out in theaters, get the DVD now and treat yourself to a good, scary evening.

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