A review of this coming up just as soon as I grab a Pitchfork…
Finishing up our look at ‘People going crazy’ films is this remake of the early George Romero ‘classic’. I say it like that because it’s one of those occasions where the original film has a better reputation than it probably deserves. The plot is essentially the same, there’s something in the water making people go um…crazy. But whereas the recent version focuses on thrills and tension, the Romero original mainly focuses on military paranoia.
Romero had to change the focus on his movie because, like most things he writes, the ideas are bigger than his budgets allow. He basically took the Zombie conceit and focused it around the military, though even that he did a lot better with Day of the Dead some time later.
This time around we get the ever reliable Timothy Olymphant as a small Town sheriff (Of the preposterously named Ogden Marsh, which sounds like a 50’s actor) who realises something is going down and with that the film gets going almost immediately. It’s only a couple of minutes in before we get our first Crazy sighting and soon after that we’re into full outbreak mode.
Breck Eisner made the largely terrible Sahara. So suffice to say my expectations were low with this one, but once the opening credits rolled with Johnny Cash on the soundtrack I knew it was going to have at least one thing going for it. For the record Eisner does an excellent job with his relatively low budget (Though not as low as Romero’s of course). The film’s effects are thankfully largely practical, save for an excellent use of CGI at the end.
My one complaint, and it’s really a minor one, is that we don’t quite get the gore scenes a film like this tends to promise. I’m not a gore hound as such, but with a film like this I think it’s better to go all out rather than pull your punches (Say what you want about Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, but it’s not shy of the red stuff) Again it’s just a minor complaint, but I feel like it could’ve really helped give the film an extra punch. What we get is good enough though, and Eisner draws a great amount of tension from some scenes while subverting others (An early scene featuring a Combine Harvester thankfully doesn’t end how I thought it would – I don’t need anything else to add to my fear of death by farming equipment).
Sure it doesn’t have the same social commentary as Romero’s original, but you know what? It doesn’t have to. It’s clearly a more enjoyable film, even if there’s less there to digest.
Up Next: Our ‘House’ series of film’s begins with…House!