The Crazies

February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson
Directed by: Breck Eisner (“Sahara”)
Written by: Scott Kosar (“The Amityville Horror”) and Ray Wright (“Pulse”)

With as many mediocre horror movies that come out of Hollywood in any given year, there is bound to be some apprehension when a remake of 1973’s “The Crazies” rears it’s ugly, infected head at theaters.

First of all, things don’t look too promising when screenwriters Scott Kosar and Ray Wright are attached to the project when they’ve already penned three unmemorable remakes between them in the last seven years (“The Amityville Horror” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” belong to Kosar; Wright remade a Japanese horror movie into 2006’s yawn-inducing “Pulse”). Secondly, although director Breck Eisner has some talented genes (his father is Michael Eisner, former CEO of Walt Disney), he didn’t make much of a statement when he dropped the cinematic bomb that was the action/adventure “Sahara” in 2005.

Funny thing is, with nothing much going for it, “The Crazies” somehow works rather well. Produced by the original film’s director George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”), “The Crazies” is a stimulating blend of chilling moments, solid characters, and enough violence and gore to make aficionados of the genre screech in delight.

Set in the small, fictional town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, “The Crazies” – if you want to get technical – isn’t part of the zombie culture Romero’s name is usually tied to. This follows a story more in the realm of “28 Days Later” than “Dawn of the Dead.” In the film, townspeople have become infected by something that is turning them all into aggressive, murderous pyschopaths. Unless the military can quarantine the population, the mysterious sickness will eventually infect millions and lead to a global pandemic.

Timothy Olyphant (“A Perfect Getaway”) plays David Dutton, the sheriff of Ogden Marsh who is trying to uncover the reason his neighbors are becoming raving lunatics. Along with his doctor wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), his deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), and his wife’s assistant Becca (Danielle Panabaker), the foursome maneuver their way through town on survive mode and become aware of something more frightening than the virus-plagued antagonists who are after them. There is something inherently wrong with the way the soldiers are sweeping through the farming community and rounding up the sick for testing that points to a government conspiracy.

While “The Crazies” doesn’t offer much in groundbreaking plot or character motivation, it does something so few horror movies do these days: avoids undermining the audience. Instead of cheap thrills created by deceitful editing and lame scare tactics, “The Crazies” stays engaging through its tone and attention to detail. It all makes for an entertaining zombie-type movie featuring military cover-ups, apocalyptic scenarios, and a paranoid cast of characters you can actually root for.

Friday the 13th

February 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti
Directed by: Marcus Nispel (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” 2003 remake)
Written by: Damien Shannon (“Freddy Vs. Jason”) and Mark Swift (“Freddy Vs. Jason”)

If you hadn’t gotten enough of Jason Voorhees in the last three decades (11 films since 1980), the masked serial killer with mommy issues returns to mince up more pretty teenagers again in “Friday the 13th,” a reimagining of the horror franchise.

The movie isn’t necessarily a remake of the original film since it borrows plot points from a few of the sequels, and none of the characters (other than Jason and his psycho mother) are revisited. On the other hand, how much significance does a secondary character have in a “Friday the 13th” movie anyway? Other than Kevin Bacon and maybe Crispin Glover, can you remember any of the other victims from any of the other films?

It’s no different in the 2009 version. The forgettable kids come by the dozen and Jason doesn’t waste time before slicing heads open with his machete and tossing an ax through someone’s spinal column. It’s gruesome, but still as cliché and unoriginal as they come.

In the updated “Friday the 13th,” which doesn’t do anything remotely modern to distinguish it from its predecessors (other than putting cell phones in the kids’ hands and having them declare there’s no reception when they get to their cabin), a group of kids go to Camp Crystal Lake in search of a secret stash of marijuana supposedly growing somewhere in the woods. Yes, screenwriters Damien Shannon and Mark Swift somehow find a way to incorporate drugs into a cocktail of sex, alcohol, murder and expletives, but the stoner story is just so preposterous from the start.

Jared Padalecki of the TV shows “Supernatural” and “The Gilmore Girls,” plays Clay Miller, the brother of one of Jason’s first victims, who goes searching for his sister after the police close the case. Clay ends up hook up with a diverse group of young partiers (among the troupe of tramps there’s a pot-smoking Asian and a black rapper, both of whom act as the stereotypical comic relief). Conflict arises when one of the girls (Danielle Panabaker) in the cabin takes a liking to Clay despite her boyfriend’s objection to her friendliness.

Soon enough, Jason finds his way to the sitting ducks and does what he does best. It’s difficult to see some of the action since director Marcus Nispel (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) chooses to use a handheld camera in portions of the killing sequences. For you bloodlusters, there should be ample flesh flying apart.

Still, “Friday the 13th” comes off stiffer than one of Jason’s bloated corpses. Sure, the kids have to be bludgeoned in the film, but did they actually have to open their mouths and deliver such terrible dialogue? Producer Michael Bay is bound to make a quick buck at the box office, but he’s one of the many Hollywood heads out there turning the American horror genre into a stomping ground for the talentless.