Romero is bleeding but not so as you'd notice.
Here's some fun trivia to start the review with. Did you know that if you remake a George Romero cult classic that you have to, and this is by law now, start the film with a Johnny Cash song? Preferably something from the Man-in-Black's Grammy award winning 'American IV' album apparently.
So as Zack Snyder's 2004 turbo boosted reimagining of Dawn of the Dead
begins with the apocalyptically appropiate - The Man Comes Around
, so follows Breck Eisner's Crazies
with the upbeat (if not ominous) We'll Meet Again
. What's interesting to me is that Snyder's DotD remake used the first track on American IV while Eisner chooses the last track of the album for his opener. An alpha and omega if you will, one that is a telling sign that the Turbo-Zombie might possibly have come to some form of cultural full circle in the shifting landscape of the American Psyche.
David (Timothy Olyphant) Dutton presides over Pearce County, an idyllic small town in Iowa. One like most of the small towns you'll find in Middle America, Hollywood in fact. Where the entire police force can pause in their duties to watch a local high school baseball game and whose female population doesn't go below an '8' on the Maxim Magazine scale.
But when the locals suddenly become babbling, gun wielding maniacs (crazies... if you will) it can only mean one thing... the townsfolk have been watching Glenn Beck! That and the fact that Uncle Sam lost a plane full of dangerous zombie making chemicals somewhere in the town's water supply. 28 Minutes Later... and the shit hits the fan. The titular Crazies are appearing in greater numbers and doing all manner of things Crazy (and none of that OCD shit either, people... I mean real whoop-diddly-doo ultra-vi batshit insane). Soon the military arrives in all their gas-masked and jack booted glory, heralded by by a series of satellite camera shots that zoom out of the town intermittently that makes you wonder why it's taken this long to get the ball rolling on that whole retrival of the zombie making chemicals from the middle of Iowa thing. Well within a few short scenes the army (or so I presume) is put to work quarantining the townsfolk in a suddenly assembled chain linked camp, executing resisters without a second thought and doing everything short of gang raping puppies to let you know just how outta control big gum'nit is!
But of course this being the same Big Brother that botched 9/11, Katrina, Cloverfield and incalcuable zombie invasions... the center cannot hold and things fall apart.
Now Chief Dutton, along with his totally hot but sternly practical wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and with the aid of his delightfully earnest deputy Russell (Joe Anderson) Clank, have to totally Escape From
To be fair I enjoyed what the movie was trying to do, which quite simply was attempting recapture the formula behind the DotD remake's success. Simply take a vintage Romero thriller, remix it within the context of a modern setting while adding a liberal dose of hyper-shocks and boo moments to give it some 'oomph'. The effect, if done right, should be akin to a carnival ride where they've combined their haunted house with the roller-coaster ride. At times The Crazies
does just that. I jumped a number of times, even while laughing giddily at the obviously stupid horror-movie shit the protagonists were engaged in. After all, if I'm to be honest, this was exactly why I bought my ticket in the first place.
A part of me also enjoyed how the protagonists struggle between the Apollian abuse of State Power as well as the Dionysian feral anarchy of a population overcome with the homocidal equivalent of Turrets Syndrome. It's a theme common in a lot of survival horror movies and this one is no exception.
Which is its biggest problem. It's trying too hard to be Snyder's DotD and not Eisner's (much less Romero's) The Crazies
. Don't get me wrong. I really dug some of the shots Eisner makes... in one harrowing scene Judy is strapped to a gurney and we see her screaming face reflected in the twin gas mask lens of the medic pushing her. There's a few more... but you know, spoilers and all that. It's just that there's nothing here you haven't probably seen before, whether you're a casual player of Left for Dead 2
or have caught any given turbo-zombie flick in the last ten years. Which no doubt will be the reason behind both its box office charm and post credit shrugs.
To be honest movies like this aren't meant to be graded in stars but rather in bowls (and by 'bowls' I think most of you know what I mean). I'd say two should do the trick with the recommendation of a third for hardcore chronics.