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The Crazies is This Month's Dose of Awesome

Published February 25, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Overture Films
The Crazies Poster The Crazies
The Crazies is this month’s The Book of Eli. Wouldn’t it be great if every month had a movie so awesome, you only needed to compare it to the awesome movie from a month ago?

Review: The Crazies

This is everything I want to feel in a movie. There’s the briefest of character setup before the incident. There is a real impact to the community, fallout from the survivors of the first attack. It’s as real a reaction as you would want without bringing heavy drama to a fun thriller, but it feels like it’s actually happening to people. Bringing a gun to a public place is serious, and thank God the sheriff is fast enough to protect us. He’s also smart enough to piece things together.

The character comes through in the sparsest of dialogue, as it should. You end up getting a better sense of who these people are than in those movies with 20 minutes of exposition. Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) says one thing to a neighbor that lays out the entire disparity of the town. I suppose I should give away that line since it’s so important to me, and assure you that the film is full of characters revealing their intentions without spending time analyzing them.

Dutton says something to the effect of, “Don’t ask me why I have to go back for my wife, and I won’t ask you why you don’t.” Now do you have any question about his morals or the lack thereof in the townies he’s protecting?

Like I said, it doesn’t take long at all to get started and then… there is some F’d up sh’ in this movie. The action builds, compounding on the stakes and intensity. Real surprises happen. It’s like the best moments of Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg, where you’re invested in one battle, but then they spring a more important conflict on you. Every action – an explosion, a stab, a block – means something. It usually means they’re screwed, but nothing happens that’s just filler. Often multiple things are happening simultaneously, and you can easily track it all. Timothy Olyphant is so badass. He handles his business. I’m more excited than ever to see Justified now.

There are jump scares of course. That’s part of the fun, but the paranoia really works. When someone acts up, you’ve got to wonder is it natural panic from an intense situation, is it the disease, or are they actually right about how to handle this crazy situation?

It’s even shot beautifully, and I’m not a guy who’s into cinematography. I just liked all the shots of a single character in the center with the entire town filling the widescreen. In this age of handheld choppiness, I’m just excited by basic framing these days, especially when there’s four characters and you can see them all, even when they change the shot! When they push two all the way to the side of an empty frame, that’s just simple and gorgeous. That’s why I like widescreen. It directs your eyes. You’re not really supposed to look at the whole screen at once.

I don’t usually like the flashback structure, but it works because you already know what’s going to happening. Opening on a flash of carnage only assures you that it’s going to go there. It’s called The Crazies, so they’re not really trying to make you wonder how it got to this point.

This is the movie you wanted Outbreak to be. The last time I was in this much genuine suspense was The Dark Knight. If you took that out of the equation, which would almost be more fair, The Crazies would be the most intense movie in years, perhaps the most effective horror movie since the original Saw. Yeah, I like to compare things. When something moves me this much, I have to remember when else I’ve felt this way, otherwise it would just be the best movie ever. I’d suspect this will be the most suspenseful and surprising movie you’ll see all year.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Overture Films

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