This is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name from George A. Romero. That earlier film came in the wake of his genre defining classic Night of the Living Dead. At the time Romero was still an unknown quantity, making films the only way he knew how and decidedly outside the studio system. The original version of The Crazies is a little free-form in execution, shooting as they could with locals in many supporting roles. He clearly did not want to make another Living Dead film so quickly, so he found another way to use a zombie-style outbreak while also playing with ideas of distrusting the government. It is a good, if odd film. Now, here we are 37-years later with a remake made from within the studio system. Does it succeed?
Yes, this new take on The Crazies is a surprisingly solid entry in the horror genre. It does not quite have the subversive patchwork quality of Romero's film, but despite the slick Hollywood sheen of this new production, it still manages to hold your attention. When you factor in the cult-status of the original, the fact that it is a little known film from the 1970s and not exactly well executed, it appears to be the perfect type of film that could use a remake, perhaps to clean it up, give it some slick production values, and hope for the best.
The movie is told from the side of the townsfolk, specifically Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), people who are always on the far end of knowledge, always playing with bits and pieces, mere fragments of the truth. This being the case, we are kept in the dark about the specifics of what is going on. This leads to some interesting moments; it allows for inconsistencies in the events that could be misread as plot holes or story problems, but to me ring much more true to life.
This is not a zombie movie; this is an infected movie. It is about people acting irrationally under the effects of a virus. This virus makes people do strange things; it makes people violent, vicious, murderous, and generally unlikable to say the least. If you see someone who is sick, you are not going to want to stick around. Now what is most interesting is that different people react differently, succumb to the virus on different timetables, much like real life. Think about catching a cold or the flu. Does everyone get it the same, or have the same exact symptoms? Sometimes, but others can differ in severity and length. The same thing happens here.