Starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell The Crazies is a wonderfully gripping story of panic an mayhem among the residents of a small town in the midst of an outbreak of a virus that turns people Crazy. It’s not quite a Zombie film per se but it does get a lot of its horror from the similar apprehension that you could be next and your friends/family may be your killer but it adds an extra layer of fear in the arrival of military and scientists that show no mercy or even a clear priority of helping the residents survive.
The film is basically in three defined parts, firstly David Dutton (Olyphant), the Sheriff of a small town is heavily criticized and guilt ridden for shooting dead a citizen who walked on to a baseball field wielding a shotgun but it turns out it’s just the beginning of their problems as in quick succession things start to go out of control and most of the citizens begin to show signs of violent and strange behaviour particularly to David’s wife and the town doctor Judy Dutton, it’s a brutal display of unemotional evil behaviour.
Secondly after the discovery of what possibly caused the outbreak the town’s communication methods are cut and the military move in to bring order and ensure a quarantine is in place to prevent the further spread of the virus. This is the films strongest part with the terror and panic caused by the arrival of nonnegotiable scientists and troops that have a job to do but it’s clear they have an agenda of more than just quarantine and curing the inhabitants of the town.
The final third of the film is the rescue and escape from the town as the realisation of the real motive of the military comes clear, the town is overun by escaped Crazies and the trust levels are put to the test by the small group of friends desperately trying to survive. It’s a good film but I feel it could have been so much more as none of these three parts of the film ever realised their full potential as the pacing of the film was so dam fast and moved on too quickly leaving little time for tension to build and for me to give a dam about the characters fighting for survival.
The explanation for the virus wasn’t touched upon in great detail which I sometimes prefer as it lets the film just tell the story from the victims point of view without the need for explaining what,why and how the Virus came about and this did help the film show more of the effects and the aftermath of it hitting.
What I liked from the film was the shear evilness of the infected characters, the brutal way they attacked or tormented their victims was brilliant, there were a number of big jumps and the finale escape scene was exciting with its build up where David and Judy have to escape from Hillbilly Crazy infected hunters at a garage to steal a lorry that was tense and great fun to witness. Olyphant puts in a fine performance and carried the film nicely along and the look of the Crazies was pretty decent although veering towards a Zombie character which I didn’t feel necessary.
What I didn’t like about the Crazies, which is what let it down for me, was that it lacked any sort of fear or any real sense of how the virus spread which I feel you need in a film like this, our characters came into contact with the infected on numerous occasions, drank the same water, shared the same quarantine tents and probably came close enough to the infected to share air or even random spots of flying saliva but still they never contracted the disease even though it was clearly stated that it had gone airborne! This in all removes any sense of dread I had for the characters situation and took much of the horror away.
Also I have to congratulate the guys who arranged the screening for us, it was a unique experience in Vue Cinema in the West End where they sectioned off an area with plastic sheeting with bloody hand prints, Biological suited armed troops patrolling and doctors checking you as you go in claiming your infected which added a great atmosphere and anticipation for the film!
Overall an ok film that has just about enough to succeed as a horror film but falls flat with its fast pacing and plot holes that leave it a bit unexplained. Scary at times and haunting in its political handling of a situation out of control.