I saw The Crazies Friday night.
I’m not normally a big fan of horror flicks, but, well, there weren’t a lot of really palatable options Friday night, so we decided to roll the dice on this one. My expectations were low, but it was actually a pretty good movie. Keep in mind, though, I tend to pick these movies apart for sport. I’ll try to warn you before there are any spoilers, but, still, this is sort of your first warning, okay?
So, the premise of the movie is simple; there’s something making the townsfolk of a little, rural Iowa town go, well, crazy. In fact, to be more specific, there’s something making people become homicidal maniacs. The first “crazy” we see is on the local high-school baseball diamond on opening day. He’s the town drunk, even though he’s cleaned up, with a shotgun. Obviously, this ends badly for him and, frankly, doesn’t do much for the sheriff who has to kill him. He’s married to the town doctor, just to keep the main stereotypes all in the family.
Obviously, the sheriff’s all broken up about having been forced to kill the town drunk, but, his doctor wife assures him that he had no choice. Sadly, that’s just the start of the crazy behavior in town. From there, well, more people start going nuts and before long that other mainstay of the modern horror film, the U.S. Army, shows up to “help out”.
Naturally, the Army’s idea of “helping” is to contain the problem and, basically, kill the town. The only problem is, the sheriff and his wife, and his deputy and her medical assistant, are going to try and make a break for freedom. So, yeah, without giving anything away, that’s the movie in a nutshell. Pretty basic. Something bad gets into the water and makes the town go crazy and our ragtag band of survivors has to, uh, survive, both the bad thing and the alleged good guys trying to save the rest of the world from whatever is killing the town.
Now, there are a short list of problems I had with the movie. Also? Here there be spoilers, matey!
First, the town is filled with crazies and the Army herds the town into holding pens, until they go crazy and try to get out. This results in mayhem, of course, and a bunch of dead bodies. No problem so far, right? Here’s the thing, though, the survivors have access to an unknown quantity of military-grade automatic weapons at this point, but they leave them all behind. They don’t even look to see if they can scavenge one and some ammunition to use! Not ONE! At this point, I pretty much think these people might not have the survival skills needed to make it through this.
Second, they cut cross-country to get to a farm where there’s a car they can use to escape. Why? Well avoiding the roads until they get the car will help them avoid roadblocks. Okay, sure, makes a kind of sense. But, aren’t they supposed to be in rural Iowa? They’re going to a farm, right? But, no one has horses? Really? No one thinks, hey, horses would let us cut cross-country all the way to a major town or city, avoiding roadblocks all the way? I’m pretty sure it was at this point that I decided for the long-term viability of mankind, these fools no longer deserved to survive.
Thirdly, after all this, every time these trained law-enforcement officers go into a building or even room, they never, ever check it. Not just for blind spots or crazies in the back hall, I mean they don’t check a damn thing. Nothing. Nunca nada. Seriously? I’m just a dude who’s seen too many cop shows on TV and I’d be checking every damn thing before I’d relax at all.
Fourthly, they started to have incredible luck and exhibit completely out of place skills. For instance, at one point the sheriff finds a Zippo in a display that’s fully loaded with lighter fluid and ready to go. Pretty sure, that’s not how those things ship because, you know, they might accidentally catch fire. But, it was an important prop that drove the plot later, so we’re supposed to overlook that.
Also, they finally find a semi that just happens to be fully fueled and ready to go in a garage. Why, it’s almost like it was waiting for them! And, naturally, the sheriff knows how to drive a big rig. Now, I’m sure it’s a pretty straightforward skill to learn, but, uh, don’t they advertise schools for that sort of thing on matchbooks? Seriously, I don’t think that a sheriff is likely to know how to drive a semi, not even in a small town. This guy is young, for one thing, and, frankly, more likely to have been former military, as a lot of guys like that are, which makes it even more likely that he would have picked up one of those handy automatic weapons! (Yeah, that one really bothers me, because, c’mon, that’s just basic stuff, man!)
So, yeah, the movie takes you on a merry chase away from the infected town and the nasty government men who are going to nuke the town to save the rest of us from this terrible thing which killed the town. There are the standard horror movie moments, though, I have to admit, the director did a better than average job of setting those up. Most of the movie really is believable, with a few, uh, notable exceptions. And, people do react mostly as you would expect, again with a few notable exceptions.
So, as horror movies go, it was pretty good. No, I wasn’t scared. At least once or twice I was startled but that was as much the crowd effect and the music as anything else. And, granted, my expectations were set pretty low, but they were met and greatly exceeded.
So, to sum up, if you’re a horror or slasher flick fan, then this movie is totally worth seeing in the theater. If you’re not into that sort of thing, then wait until it comes out on DVD.
Oh, and don’t forget, I’ll be at a wedding this Friday (no, not my own!), so I won’t have a movie review next week. Maybe I’ll review the Warren Zevon biography I read recently instead. We’ll see.