Earlier today, I went and I saw a movie called The Crazies. The Crazies is a remake of a 1973 film of the same name. The original was directed by George Romero and, like almost every Romero film that doesn't have the word "Dead" in the title, it's been rather unfairly dismissed. Often criticized for it's low budget and it's poor acting (ironically enough, the exact same qualities that are routinely praised in Romero's Dead films), the original Crazies actually benefits from it's raw feel. It brings an immediacy to that action that is so often lacking from other post-apocalyptic movies. Add to that, the original Crazies also featured a wickedly satiric script in which the one scientist who manages to find a cure for the disease is promptly killed in a stupid accident and the one man who is immune to the disease becomes so disgusted with life in general that he ends up pretending to be crazy just so he won't have to shoulder the responsibility of saving the world. Though I'm in a definite minority, I think The Crazies is one of Romero's best films (though the absolute best remains the unjustly obscure Martin).
As for the remake, it lacks the edge of the original. Whereas the original viewed the government's extreme response to the Crazies with a genuine sense of outrage, the remake is almost nonchalant in its portrayal of American soldiers casually murdering American citizens. Then again, we've reached a point where, any time someone in a military uniform even shows up on a movie screen, we know they're going to be up to no good. At this point, I'd be more shocked to see a movie where the U.S. military wasn't portrayed as engaging in nonstop atrocities.
That said, this new Craziesis an undeniably effective horror film that features some strong "scare" moments and which captures the paranoia of not knowing if the man beside you is simply angry about the soldiers trying to kill him or if he truly has gone crazy. If the remake lacks the original movie's overwhelming sense of outrage, it also never dismisses that outrage either. Instead, it simply reflects the fact that we, as moviegoers and as a society at large, have become largely numb to the things that, in 1973, were considered to be shocking.
The film is well-cast with all the Crazies coming across as believable threats rather than as just cardboard bogeymen. In the lead role, the underrated Tim Olyphant shows that he's currently the closest thing to Gary Cooper that the 21st Century is likely to get.
The Crazies is hardly a perfect film but for a horror remake released early in the year, it's certainly far better than anyone would have had any reason to expect.