The Crazies remakes a tame biological disaster, mutating it into an enjoyably demented nightmare. One of the rare examples where the original is diminished almost entirely thanks to an appropriate modernisation that extracted the core content and dressed it up with actual substance. Don't get me wrong, Romero's '73 original has its cult status for a reason. Yet Eisner's direction suited the maniacal regression of Ogden Marsh, by giving the audience what they wanted. None of this nuanced rubbish, just bloody fun. After a biological weapon is released due to a crashed cargo plane, a small residential town is infected with a maddening virus with only a tiny number of survivors attempting to escape.
The essence of Romero's original remains. Military in hazmat uniforms whilst releasing the fiery inferno from flamethrowers upon the recently deceased in order to contain the virus. The major difference, and the sole reason why I believe this to be a more successful rendition, is the amount of character development given to the survivors. The sheriff, community doctor, deputy and neighbour, all have an adequate amount of backstory and personality to make them carry the story, a massive aspect that the original was absent of. The beautiful specimen that is Olyphant with an always dependable Mitchell, turn a B-movie aesthetic into an accessible mainstream horror. This remake wouldn't have worked without them, as they grant the screenplay a dynamical perspective floundering between brute survival and benevolence during a time of great destress. Plenty of gore, blood and deranged laughs plagued Ogden Marsh, enabling an acute sense of enjoyment as the survivors stealthily battled their way through the town. Many memorable scenes, including the pitchfork impalement deaths and murderous house blaze, will captivate audiences long after the credits roll.
The airborne virus does cloud certain aspects however. The narrative is built upon a mass amount of last minute plot conveniences, conveniently saving the survivors or progressing the story, which disables most of the tension. The concluding five minutes were dreadful, establishing an insignificant ending that, again, required a finely timed plot convenience. The infected ranged from crazed lunatics to murderous mutes, lacking a consistent state of infection resulting in a less than memorable contamination. Oh, and the containment protocol was established way too prematurely.
But, from what I can only describe as a radical improvement over the original, it's a damn decently enjoyable horror thriller that substitutes plotless subtlety for outlandish survival. Probably the most distressing situation for a pregnant woman to be in...