A remake of legendary director George Romero's 1973 film, The Crazies, Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard) plays Dave Dutton, a sheriff in a small farmer's town that has become infected by a virus that causes the citizens to start killing each other. Dave finds out that this was probably due to the water supply being tainted by the government's accidental chemical spill. He and his doctor wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and two friends are soon chased by the crazies (the contaminated) as well as the military who are trying to eradicate all the infected and possibly the uninfected.
Now lately all the remakes have been terrible, this is not the case for this film. It's actually a decent remake. I am not really a horror kind of guy but I kind of liked this film. Not as good as the original but its close.
This film, in spirit, is a zombie film, although they aren't technically zombies. Much like 28 Days Later and Omega Man, they are like viral zombies because it involves a virus; usually they are still people, but not themselves. What makes them so dangerous is that they want to kill average people. Unfortunately, we're not told in detail precisely how this virus works that makes them want to kill. Does it make people violent and extreme like 28 Days Later? Not really a lot of these guys appear somewhat designed and well, slow, most of the time. For me, those being "crazy" didn't seem like a strong enough cause. After all, these aren't cannibals like zombies have a hunger or a built-in need to assimilate the population. These guys in general just want to kill. If new people do get infected by the virus, it's generally by accident, not because these guys bite. Regular zombies are scarier than these "crazies" because they play with our fears of the animalistic, killer nature. These guys, however, while they do use tools, just don't draw out the feeling of urgent threat that zombies give.
On the other hand, one may argue that the real foe is the government. Not only do the protagonists have to deal with the crazies, they have to deal with the military trying to slaughter them. This aspect makes the film feel more like a thriller than a horror film.
I felt director Breck Eisner's approach to this film was quite by-the-numbers. I felt like the film relied too much on jump scenes punctuated by loud tunes, an overused gimmick seen in many modern B-movie horror flicks. There's plenty of close-up shots and shaky camera work. With that said, there are some fun scenes, such as the car-wash scene and the ending--they were somewhat different. I wished the film worked more on the feeling of atmosphere.
Overall, while I was entertained for the most part, many scenes felt a little repetitive and excitement or actual creepiness factor wasn't particularly high for me. Whether it's more a homage or simply lack of innovation, the movie felt quite by-the-numbers in its execution. I suppose it didn't help that the "crazies" felt like toned-down zombies to me. A very interesting ending to it though.