As a toxin begins to turn the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa into violent psychopaths, sheriff David Dutton tries to make sense of the situation while he, his wife, and two other unaffected townspeople band together in a fight for survival.
/ United Arab Emirates
Directed by: Breck Eisner
. Starring: Timothy Olyphant
, Radha Mitchell
, Joe Anderson
, Danielle Panabaker
, Christie Lynn Smith
, Brett Rickaby
, Preston Bailey
, John Aylward
, Joe Reegan
, Glenn Morshower
, Larry Cedar
, Gregory Sporleder
, Mike Hickman
. Music by: Mark Isham
The sheriff of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, finds his town overrun by the military when the citizens turn into psychopaths after drinking the water supply infected by a biological weapon called Trixie, caused by a downed plane which crashed in a lake. Sheriff David Dutton(Timothy Olyphant)goes back for his wife, Judy(Sasha Mitchell) after she is pulled away from him, separated because she was running a fever(she is pregnant), quarantined and left strapped to a gurney along with local girl, Becca(Danielle Panabaker)when the crazies break from a stronghold, executed by soldiers. Dutton, along with trusty deputy, Russell Clank(Joe Anderson, in a star making performance), will hunt for Judy, hoping to find her before danger strikes. Not only will they have to avoid the infected but the military as well, who seem to now be operating by orders to kill the entire town. Hoping to evade every threat they come across, on foot unless they are to find a vehicle not ruined purposely by the military, David, Judy, Russell, and Becca will try their very level best to get out of dodge, attempting to flee the perimeter.
Was this one intense! I often applaud a movie that has me biting my nails..a nail biter to me is accomplished when it draws you in through the perilous situations which plague characters which I care for. It's inevitable that we compare one film to another, the original to it's "re-invisioning", and I admit, being an absolute admirer of Romero's critically maligned classic(it seems that even Romero faithful question "The Crazies" worth, sad to say), I think that director Breck Eisner's version has better leads..frankly, I found the leads in Romero's movie rather colorless, for the most part.
There are some nice homages to Romero's original which I credit Eisner and the filmmakers for such as the horrifying sequence involving the father setting ablaze his house with his wife and kid he locked in a closet trapped inside, and an amusing cameo from Lynn Lowry as a woman singing a tune while riding her bicycle in town!
Potent suspense sequences galore..Judy and Becca are strapped to a gurney as the man they once knew as a principal is stabbing other bodies with a pitchfork closing in on them, David having to shoot a farmer who was toting a shotgun during a baseball game in front of the attending crowd, David is then attacked by that farmer's infected wife and son while Judy is tied to a chair, the truck stop finale as David and Judy must defend themselves against savage hunters afflicted with virus, and an attack on David, Judy, Russell, and Becca while their car is stuck in a car wash machine.
In this remake, we not only see mental deterioration and eventual psychopathic lapses into violence, but hideous physiological effects as well. Like in the original, the virus is named Trixie and the cause remains identical, a plane crashes into a lake, carrying a biological agent to poison an American enemies' city, entering accidentally into the water of our own people.
I liked the decision in this movie to focus the central plot around the sheriff and his deputy. Russell saves David's life like three different times, and remains a vital emotional arc in the movie as he discovers he might be infected as he becomes more paranoid, using his gun when not needed, and behaving irrationally. One of the more shocking scenes involves Becca having to watch helplessly as her boyfriend and his mom are executed by soldiers, ordered, it seems, by their superiors, to eliminate anyone in the city. Another terrible discovery at the truck stop eerily reminds us of the holocaust, a subtext that is quite disturbing, not to mention the gathering of the citizens by the military as if they were sheep(and, again, we see the soldiers gunning them down as they herd in fear, even those who haven't succumbed to the infection)to the slaughter.
The military, unlike Romero's, remain faceless, hiding behind face masks and bio-gear, chemical suits and machine guns. Only two specific military types are unmasked because they service the movie as exposition of the plot. I will warn you that the film uses loud sound effects to amplify jump scares, but I think the sparse musical score, which does it's job, I felt, at mounting unease and dread, and the use of silence as characters move about outside and throughout whatever building they might be at at any given moment, not knowing where an infected lunatic might be lurking, can be positively spine-tingling.
I do think there logical lapses from time to time with moments where I assume viewers will be eye-rolling, whispering to themselves, "Yeah, right." What I mean by that is there are plenty of times where characters escape the jaws of death in the nick of time, our heroes are able to avoid capture, walking freely in the open despite the knowledge that the military is round abouts. No doubt about it, the outlook is grim from the opening shot of the town of Ogden Marsh desolate and burning with the sound of flames never more wrenching. Finally, Olyphant graduates into the lead role with fine support from Mitchell as his concernedworried pregnant wife, watching everyone they've ever knew killed or turning into monster. Certainly one of the better remakes I've seen in recent memory because it knows how to push your buttons..or it certainly did mine!
Review by Scarecrow-88 from the Internet Movie Database.