DVD REVIEW The Crazies
Won’t make George Romero fans flip out
2010 * 15 * 97 mins * £17.99 * 19 July 2010
Also available on Blu-ray (£19.99)
Director: Breck Eisner
Cast: Timothy Olphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson
This latest remake of an old George Romero film opens with the gravelly tones of an aged Johnny Cash. It’s a cunning bit of subliminal hacking, since Zach Snyder’s well-received take on Dawn Of The Dead did the same. “Trust us”, is the message, “This isn’t going to be a travesty”. And it isn’t.
Cash is grumbling a cover of “We’ll Meet Again”, but most of the audience will be making The Crazies’ acquaintance for the first time, since it isn’t that well-known. Romero’s 1973 shocker concerns an outbreak of mass insanity in a small town, caused by the accidental release of a viral weapon
The one significant change Breck Eisner makes is to concentrate more on the civilian population. With the exception of one brief scene, the authorities tasked with “initiating containment protocols” are either unseen overseers, represented by a satellite’s-eye view, or gas-masked troopers. This increases empathy with the small group of fleeing townsfolk who are the focus, but irons out some of the original’s ethical complexity – some of those soldiers are panicky kids, just trying to do their job.
Occasionally the film leans on tired old tropes (the “hand on the shoulder” card is played a good four times), but on the whole one suspects George will be pleased. The screenwriters have a gift for gruesome set-pieces that he’d surely appreciate, and the ending’s every bit as bleakly anti-Hollywood as Night Of The Living Dead. This remake may have more choppers and exploding cars than Romero could afford, but it also shares some of his fiendish ingenuity.
A director’s commentary, five featurettes, storyboards and a gallery. The Blu-ray adds a motion comic of Top Cow’s four-issue Crazies mini-series.