Tall, Dark, and Dead – 84 – The Crazies
Title: The Crazies
Director: Breck Eisner
Leads: Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker
Favorite quote: “One, two, three. That’s how many times I’ve saved your life. Now walk out where I can see you. Go on, move!”
Thoughts: I actually enjoyed this particular remake – and not just because I managed to see it in the theater, equipped with butter-laden popcorn.
(Theater popcorn. Ambrosia. 10% of my body by volume.)
While the original Crazies was an incredibly effective movie for its time, the remake creates a sense of zeroing-in, of getting down to basics. Instead of jumping between various characters throughout the length of the plot like the original, the remake focuses solely on David and Judy, following them tirelessly toward their doom.
Other than that, the plot remains largely the same – so I emerged from the theater far less offended than I expected to be. The movie came across as another look at the original Crazies, as a valid reframing. I wish more remakes/reboots/re-whatevers could say the same. (Also, Timothy Olyphant? Sigh.)
The murderous insanity of the infected was also very well presented. You got the sense that these were truly altered human beings that the main characters were dealing with, that the afflicting toxin (in this case) was truly an agent of change to be feared.
Something that strikes me about many living-infected-zombie films is the desire to escape to some mythical and/or promising place – to find not only safety, but a life elsewhere. The Crazies makes that journey the main idea of the plot. Yet, escape can seldom truly be effected – and not for the reasons you’d think. We are haunted by ourselves, and often become “viral carriers” of everything horrible about humanity – violence, fear, jealousies, etc. We are dogged by the detritus of our previous lives. All too often, we are more willing to do away with our fellow man than open and sift through our own baggage. However, if you keep throwing away everyone who becomes infected or just plain ticks you off, soon you won’t have anyone left.
So. I think it’s time to venture part of Lia’s Unified Theory of Living Zombies. Today I’d like to focus on the qualities that make a work (book, video game, etc.) about modern infected-living-zombies precisely that, as opposed to a work about a pandemic or a particular type of infection.
To wit, the qualities that set a work about infected-living-zombies apart from a work about infection include:
1. The portrayal of the infection as something to be feared not for the pain or death it brings, but because of its mind- or behavior-altering qualities. Additionally, the related alienation or dehumanization of the infected (“I’m not going to end up like those things outside“).
2. The presence of a subset of uninfected humans, either on the run or in hiding.
3. An overwhelming sense of loss of control – seen both in the plight of the infected (who have lost control over their bodies, minds, or senses) and in the plight of the uninfected (who now live in an abnormal, unpredictable world where they face violent physical and biological threats).
4. An overall sense (or setting) of apocalypse.