Pros: cast, especially Olyphant and Anderson; gory and suspenseful
Cons: somewhat predictable
2010's The Crazies, a remake of George Romero's 1973 film of the same name, is another of those virus-causes-a-town-to-go-mad films. But this is one of the better ones, an action-packed, entertaining good time that's definitely worth a look for horror fans.
A town baseball game is interrupted by the arrival of Rory, who shows up with a loaded rifle and a deadened look in his eyes. Rory ignores town sheriff David Dutton's (Timothy Olyphant) attempts to talk him down, and the sheriff must finally shoot to kill. It is assumed that Rory, a recovering alcoholic, must have fallen off the wagon. That is, until the medical examiner determines that there was no alcohol in Rory's system. As more residents start to act dangerously violent, Sheriff Dutton investigates and discovers a crashed plane has released some kind of toxin into the town's water supply. His efforts to save the town prove to be in vain when the military shows up to contain the madness by any means possible.
The film focuses mainly on four characters. Radha Mitchell is Judy, the town doctor and wife of David. Her character is there mainly to serve as David's motivation, and Danielle Panabaker's Becca... well, let's just say her most memorable scene takes place in a car wash. Timothy Olyphant has a strong screen presence and is equally capable of playing a loving family man as well as a badass action hero. British-born actor Joe Anderson plays deputy Russell without the slightest trace of an English accent. His character offers comic relief while also saving the day more than a few times.
The Crazies has its share of memorably visceral moments, from a pitchfork being shoved clean through a helpless victim to a man using a knife lodged in his own hand as a weapon. Director Breck Eisner relies on more than blood and gore for scares, building a tense atmosphere of paranoia, as the survivors start to grow suspicious of each other. There is also a refreshing lack of LOUD bangs and overbearing music to announce the arrival of scary moments.
The action moves at a good pace, with a lot happening in a short period of time. It doesn't take long for Dutton to figure out what is behind the town's troubles, so there is plenty of time for infected mayhem, governmental evils, and plenty of explosions and gunshots.
Boasting strong performances, some truly unsettling moments, and a foreboding atmosphere, The Crazies is one horror remake worth going a little crazy for.