Director: Breck Eisner Release Date: February 26 Review by Tara Judah At a time when horror movie releases are fast becoming a dime a dozen, it is more than a pleasant surprise when you come across one that’s actually pretty decent. Breck Eisner’s remake of George A “Grandfather of the Zombie” Romero’s The Crazies (1973), though unlikely to claim best horror of the year, is definitely good enough to get you down the multiplex. With a cast that reads like a list of nominees for best newcomer to the genre; Timothy Olyphant for A Perfect Getaway (2009), Radha Mitchell for Rogue (2007), Joe Anderson for The Ruins (2008) and Danielle Panabaker for Friday the 13th< (2009), The Crazies (2010) encompasses everything that is oh so right (albeit alongside quite a bit that is oh so wrong) with the contemporary output of remakes pillaging the horror cannon. Sure, the original version of The Crazies didn’t do very well at the box office, and even now it isn’t considered to be one of Romero’s better films, falling far behind the popularity and acclaim of its contemporaries; Night of the Living Dead (1968), Martin (1977) and Dawn of the Dead (1978). But despite its low budget B-movie aesthetics (the colour of the fake blood is near fluorescent it’s so bright), there was always something about The Crazies that could have been... The kernel of the idea being a severe government f**k up, it was always going to be a story of interest and resonance to horror/cult audiences, and like many a good stories, it’s been subject to all manner of alteration along the way. Its potential never fully realized and Romero criticized for its low budget woes, it comes as no surprise that the granddaddy of not just zombie, but social commentary horror as a whole, was involved with the remake as Executive Producer. Minus the references to the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves in protest against South Vietnamese administration and shifting its focus from military incompetence and state oppression onto the preservation of a white heteronormative familial ideal, the new Crazies is far less politically minded and gives a lot more in terms of ‘story’ and ‘background’ than one anticipates. Resultantly, as you would expect, the characters have reasonable depth and the establishment of both the town and its people are given sizeable attention prior to their inevitable demise. The film is not without issue though and sticklers for plot plausibility will surely have more than the occasional gripe; for my part an unconvincing slap and a lot of small things being continuously on fire despite a clear lack of either fire source or physical geographic logic did provide me with some sense of bemusement. But these points notwithstanding the film has a lot to offer both in terms of visceral and visual pleasure. There are more than a handful of jumpy moments and the tension is well measured throughout. But perhaps most surprising of all are the formal qualities of the film; noticeably well composed cinematography, subtle and effective use of lighting and exceptionally well executed use of both diegetic and non-diegetic sound contribute to the overall success of the film. The Crazies is an experience of great embodied affect, its true stand out performances from a pitchfork dragged along the ground akin to fingers down a blackboard, and the ominous presence of a fully powered yet stationary harvester that acts as the harbinger of death. The sickness itself, a form of craziness caught through the consumption of contaminated water with an incubation period of up to 48 hours operates successfully as both plot device and also as a metaphor for the mental delay we are all often subject to when it comes to understanding the poisons (administered by our authorities) that we have swallowed. Occasionally unconvincing, though ultimately interesting and enjoyable, The Crazies is one of those rare remakes that fares up reasonably well yet still stands firm upon its own two feet. Rating:6/10