August 1, 2010

#090: The Crazies (7/10)

I didn't totally know what I was getting into when I started The Crazies.  I'm sure I have said it before, but I am not a big fan of scary movies.  I wasn't expecting The Crazies to be extremely scary, just provide several moments of tension.  I was more scared than I thought I would be, and that was a good thing.  This is a pretty well made horror film, and provides quite a bit of enjoyment.  I don't think it is a perfect movie by any means, but it is worth watching.  I give it a 7 out of 10.
I haven't watched a ton of scary movies over the years, but I have seen a few.  The Crazies made me think about by-the-book horror movies I saw in the 90's.  It has the rural farm setting, and it just all felt like I had seen it before.  Surely those movies from the 90's were directly taking the formula from years prior, so I am not sure where it all started.  The Crazies sets up the story in a way that doesn't feel unique or original, but they still do it well.  I was with this film from the beginning, and it kept me interested and excited the entire way through.  The success of any scary/horror film will depend on how well you are pulled into the situation, and how much you believe what is being shown on screen.  If everything looks cheesy or there is no plausible explanation for why this stuff is happening, it will be difficult for the film to effectively build tension and scare you.  For me, The Crazies did a good job of setting up the story, and therefore was able to build up quite a bit of tension.

Looking back, there are quite a few things in this film that don't totally work.  The people who became infected don't all have a consistent reaction to the onset of this "disease".  It wasn't extremely distracting, but there were a few times when I wasn't sure why a character was acting the way they were.  We never learn anything about the origin of this infection, so we aren't sure how it is supposed to effect the victims, and I am glad that we didn't have to endure a bunch of explanation.  Coming off of Inception I have had plenty of that for a while.  I didn't have too much time to think about the variance between these zombie people because they gave us quite a few awesome action sequences.  I was happy to see that they got creative with how they killed people off.  It wasn't just the same old stuff.  There were some really cool sequences that showed us some exciting and original ideas.

** minor spoilers **
There was one major aspect of this film that really reminded me of 28 Weeks Later, another great horror film.  In both films we are presented with a type of zombie.  Our heroes are doing their best to avoid these beastly creatures, only to find out that the people who are supposedly there to rescue them pose just as large a threat.  Both films use this aspect to create a feeling of complete solitude and hopelessness for the main characters.  They obviously need to stay away from the people who are sick, but they also must avoid the military who might think they are infected and exterminate them also.  There is a social commentary in there somewhere, but I always have a hard time seeing it.  I fall into the camp where it is better to err on the safe side and kill a few healthy people and not risk further infection.  That probably says more about me than anything else.  There were definitely moments where I sympathized with these people, but at the same time I wouldn't have been too torn up if they were killed in order to ensure the infection didn't spread any further.  If The Crazies is trying to use the storyline to create any larger metaphors about US military, or war in general, I think it will be lost on most viewers.  I can acknowledge that something was being said concerning our current global politics, but I didn't spend much time thinking about that.
** end spoilers **

Overall I was really impressed with how well The Crazies worked.  Somebody like me who was looking for a thriller will probably get a little more gore than he bargained for. It was much more of a horror than I expected, but it still was a lot of fun to watch.  The acting was fine, and the action was worth the price of admission.  I'd definitely recommend renting this one.

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