The Crazies is that rare thing, a remake that is far better in every respect than the original – although given the quality of that it’s hardly a surprise. However that is doing a disservice to what is actually a decent little B-movie with no pretentions at being high art.
The plot remains essentially the same – a small town’s water supply is poisoned when a military plane containing an experimental chemical crash lands in it – but the writers and director are smart enough to give it a spin on the nature of modern America. The clever thing is that it’s never allowed to get in the way of the main focus of the story, the protagonists fight for survival as they try to escape ahead of the military and an increasingly homicidal population.
Because this is a B-movie we are never truly surprised when the attacks occur, but this isn’t to say they aren’t effective. Yes, we have seen everything before, but it’s all put together with enough style and knowing to still be effective. There is one stand out sequence in a car wash that is far more effective than it should be (and anymore than that would give away too much), but for the most part the action & gore are kept to a minimum in order to increase the effectiveness when they are needed.
A solid B-movie always relies on it’s principal to sell the concept and provide someone decent to route for and Timothy Olyphant has an easy going vibe that propels things along. It’s the closest thing in tone to Deadwood he’s done and the role plays on his strengths rather than asking too much.
It’s not going to win any awards, but The Crazies is worth a look especially if you have a love of small scale films that focus more on ideas than anything else.