The remake is one of the most dreaded things in horror today. With a few exceptions (like the "Dawn of the Dead" remake), most remakes tend to either a.) Add nothing new or exciting to the equation, or b.) Going the safe, PG-13 route. So when it was announced that Michael Eisner's son Breck was directing a remake of George A. Romero's 1973 film "The Crazies", I was more than a little skeptical. I mean, the original, while a good movie, isn't exactly one of Romero's best works, so the idea of remaking it was no skin off of my back. It was just the choice of director that irked me. Thankfully, Eisner got it right, not only doing a remake that improves upon the original, but also manages to be one of the much better horror remakes.
In the town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a plane crash has caused a bio-weapon known as "Trixie" to leak into the water supply. Said chemical has a noticeable side effect-it causes people to turn insane and commit acts of violence and murder. So what does the government do? The send in the military to control the situation. This isn't exactly an easy epidemic to contain however, and sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his pregnant wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and two others (Joe Anderson and Danielle Panabaker) soon realize that the so called "Crazies" might not be the biggest threat.
Eisner's version of "The Crazies" has two things going for it that even Romero's original didn't-good performances and actual scares. Everyone involved-particularly Olyphant and Mitchell-does a fine job with the material, never going over the top or overacting, and helping add some weight and reality to the situation at hand. At the same time, this is a tense little movie, as Eisner pulls off several suspenseful set pieces that constantly get the job done effectively, the highlight being a scene in a car wash. Oh, and there's a really fun cameo appearance from the originals own Lynn Lowery, herself something of a cult icon.
One thing this movie and the original get right is an intelligent social commentary on government incompetence. Government's all over the world have tried to deal with serious situations in unnecessarily violent manners, so the idea of the government violently mishandling a situation isn't the least bit shocking-look at things such as the Iraq War and especially Guantanamo Bay for example.
In the end, "The Crazies" is the rare remake that get's the job done, and manages to actually improve on the original. It's surprising to see Hollywood of all things be the ones who got it right, but at least someone did.