Before you see this film, the less you know about the plot, the better. I sat down in the theater armed only with the expectation that I would see crazy people, and I walked away from the experience pleased with the structure, pacing, and style in which the film unveiled the plot. So I’m trying to refrain from spoiling anything, in hopes that you’ll see this better-than-expected refreshment.
The Crazies is a remake of George A. Romero’s forgotten 1973 film by the same name. (I’ve never seen the original. In fact, I’d never heard of the original until recently, but George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is one of my most cherished DVDs.) I sensed some of George A. Romero’s playfulness shining through in The Crazies, but for the most part, the film took itself pretty seriously. Sure, this film fulfills a lot of stereotypes (the far-fetched scenarios, some predictable deaths, the hopeless romantics), but it is also much more sophisticated than most films in its genre.
From the very first scene, I was hooked by the storytelling. Not only did the film waste no time establishing tension, but from the beginning the characters were fleshed out and more multi-dimensional than most horror representations. As the plot progressed, the storytelling only became more refined—clean, intelligent, satisfying. When I wished for a character to do something smart, it was like they heard my thoughts and took heed.
Aside from the writing, this film was shot as a masterpiece in tension-building. My favorite scene starts with people talking in a dark room where they have no escape. Pretty typical horror stuff, right? But the scene sets itself apart as something special when the characters start to hear a peculiar noise—an unsettling scratching of metal. Instead of jumping to the action, the scene allowed just the right amount of time for the audience to sit in the dark and hear the metallic noise come closer and closer, finally culminating in something much more disturbing and awesome than I could have imagined while waiting in the dark. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire movie.
With most true-blue horror movies, I don’t recommend them to people unless they’re actually into horror for its own sake. But this film pushes the plot and writing into the realm of “good,” where most horror films fear to tread. So, fear not.