Frowned did you, when you read that title? It'll make sense eventually. For now you will have to suffer through my experiences and maybe just maybe things will start making sense--although I make no guarantees. For starters, I have just battled through tsunami like rain and a really smelly person on the train, to return to the warmth of my apartment to write this. Thanks to my pal Chris of All Things Horror I was allowed to attend a free screening of the Crazies in Boston tonight. No it wasn't nearly as epic as that whole school bus/quarantine scenario cool people like Stacie Ponder got to go to- but it was interesting.
Since we were the first to arrive and the man who took our passes said we could go in- my movie going posse and I went into the theater. We apparently bypassed the invisible line and signs that said "line up here for the Crazies" or something of that nature. Sure we thought it odd- but secretly I was hoping it was all part of the plan. While sitting by our lonesome selves and trying to pretend like we didn't still have 2 hours to kill, I saw a white object out of the corner of my eye and realized upon closer inspection, that it was a mouse! No one else saw it, but I'm pretty positive it was a mouse. After failed attempts at luring it out with popcorn, and then being yelled at because we weren't suppose to be in the theater, it got me thinking; how many times have I "seen" something in a movie that others apparently missed? And how often have I felt ashamed and foolish that I might have been wrong all along? The Crazies in a way may be just like that mouse, do I dare say I saw the slightest bit of a good movie? Or do I dare say that although the original was greatly flawed--I still find it to be superior to this remake?
My biggest gripe with the previews and the press for this movie is that it was being spoon feed to the masses as just another "zombie infection" movie. Crazy townsfolk with veiny faces doing crazy things and killing people? That's not what the Crazies is about. On a discussion somewhere in this testy blogosphere, a person wrote something about how he wasn't too excited because it just looked like another "zombie" movie. Even the Greenpeace spokesman who before the film began, told us about the real dangers of....contamination via pollution from factories or something like that, mentioned that even though "the zombies were fake" the threat of poison is real. In both cases I wanted to rip out my hair and scream from the rafters THERE ARE NO ZOMBIES IN THE CRAZIES. I refrained from doing so but have unfortunately sprouted a pimple due to my frustration.
In any case, the biggest thing about the original is that there is an ambiguity to the infected. They are merely crazy- and not "sick" looking. They don't have spider veins pulsating from their hick faces and they aren't foaming at the mouth ready to stick a pitch fork into someone's head. I was honestly and truly terrified that the remake of The Crazies would fall into that pattern of mediocrity but fortunately for us all it managed to stay mostly unique.
The story we get is pretty much the same- a plane crashes, unleashing a biological weapon into the drinking water of Hickville USA (Hickville USA with it's very own mayor who has a swimming pool....pish posh). One by one the townspeople start acting a little funny- and before long the government is called in to handle the contamination and quarantine procedures accordingly. Of course with most cases they do this very poorly, causing anger and revolt- resulting in mass hysteria and a town that has no idea what they are up against.
The Good: The biggest positive I can say is that this will keep you entertained for the majority of the film. There are jump scares yes- but there are also some well developed characters happening-- something that Cortez the Killer over at Planet of Terror wisely pointed out was largely amiss in the original. We get people we care about, and we can laugh and wallow in their emotions while still fearing the unknown in the same way that they do. There were also some truly unique shots and scenes- refreshing scenarios and surprising results. Keep a close eye on the Car Wash scene, a really good representation of both the claustrophobic atmosphere of a car wash and the terrifying nature of those giant sponges- which by the way, I have ALWAYS found frightening. Expectations for the most part were exceeded by a sort of surprise twist that was added to the end of scenes, and I loved that.
The Strange: There was this odd "Michael Cera" type of awkward humor happening now and again that felt both oddly relieving and out of place at the same time. I can't really place this as a good or bad thing because it made me laugh but it also made me question whether or not it was intentional. I'm guessing for the most part it was, but still--really awkward humor that I was not expecting which resulted in some uncomfortable chuckles on my part. Also why did the Deputy wear jeans? And since when did I become attracted to Mickey from Scream 2?
The Bad: There is no alternative to the "crazy" stigma. There is no ambiguity of whether or not someone is actually crazy or if they are just angry at the way they are being treated. There were inklings perhaps but for the most part the movie concentrated on the "rage" aspect of the disease which bothered me. I knew it would go down this route, but I was just upset to realize that it was actually happening. I wanted there to be more wacky crazy people like the woman sweeping the grass in the original or the little old lady with the knitting needles. I also did not appreciate the fact that they used the same scare tactic more than once. The first time was great and truly creepy- the second time I was just expecting it. And then of course- the jump scares....way too many! And delayed ones at times. If you're going to get me with a jump scare at least do it right!
Basically the main thing I will tell you is that this movie moves quite far from the original which isn't a bad thing. Remakes are intended to re-make something- to do something over and change our original thoughts and ideas. This remake does achieve that, it provides us with better characters and with scarier crazy people. It doesn't of course show the real nitty grittiness of the government as well it could have nor does it embellish the fact that "the crazies" could just be a stigma rather than a disease. It could have used more moments of townspeople annihilating their families and crazy girls riding bicycles through town- it's not perfect but it still works.
I will never know whether there was really a mouse making it's way through the theater that night- and I will never know if I'm making the right decision when I say, see this remake- but keep in mind that the original and it's themes may still be superior. Mouse or no mouse, I left feeling less threatened by an eminent and tiring zombie apocalypse and more hopeful that the future of horror will start to diverge into a new and refreshing direction. So get out there and see The Crazies this weekend- and please tell me that you saw the mouse!!