The Crazies

The Crazies

So this weekend I headed to a 10:30 PM opening night showing of this flick with a friend of mine. Show was sold out and the theater was way roudy. Packs of yelling kids. Parents with little kids. Drunks. The whole nine yards on a cold Brooklyn night. Even before the show started some old grizzled guy got into some argument with a bunch of teenagers sitting in the back row. They kept yelling smack to him and laughing and the grizzled guy would shout incoherent stuff back at them. The kids were fearless of their drunkened elder and it made him nuts. Eventually the old guy straight out dropped his pants (pants on the ground!) right in front of the whole theater and smacked his bare ass instructing the teenagers to kiss it. The place went wild. I sat with a friend of mine munching on Munchos just soaking in the high energy spectacle. The title alone 'The Crazies' might as well been a friggin full moon on the screen.

As the previews started an usher came in announcing that the place was sold out. And yelled that if any people had any jackets on the seats people had to 'take em up'. Mobs of people kept piling into to what already seemed pretty sold out. I looked around happy to be in the middle of a circusy atmosphere. Across the aisle from me some dude had a 2-year old kid asleep on his lap. We made eye contact. He shot me a look like, 'Yeah I got a two-year old at The Crazies... Got something to say?' I certainly did not. It seemed like a theater storm was brewing. I was reassured remembering there was an actual NYPD presence in the lobby of the theater. And before the movie even started there was one final hubbub on the other side of the theater. It seemed heated. The whole place was just revved up. Like the theater could get totally out of control by one thrown punch. My friend turned to me and said, 'Don't worry. We're right by the exit...' I'm wasn't sure if being right by the exit qualified 'Don't worry...'

It was time for The Crazies.

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I had built up this movie pretty high in my head going in. I always dig movies that splash around in chaos. This movie sort of hedged its bet. It wasn't what I wanted.

I really wanted The Crazies to go like this: (it didn't)

Small town. Everyone's a friendly face. Sheriff has an easy job. Dealing with the town drunk or teenage mischief etc. Then people start acting a little bit off. Spacing out a bit. Acting irrational. Outbursts at the diner or someone trying to run someone over with a car. Mild stuff. Eventually some dude appears on the friendly baseball field with a shotgun. Things turn serious. More people start acting crazy and violent. The sheriff handles it ok at first but then gets overwhelmed as the phone keep ringing with emergencies. He calls outside for help. Nobody comes. He has an inner circle of people helping trying to contain the town. The phone goes dead. Internet dead. All outside contact ends. The town is surrounded by the army. Turn around or be shot. No answers provided.

The sheriff has a circle of uncrazy people. He puts together a plan to survive. But eventually the craziness begins to seep into the circle. The lines blur. It's no longer clear who can be trusted. The inner circle starts breaking apart with infighting. The circle shrinks around the sheriff like a choke hold. As the circle of sane people continues to shrink the sheriff realizes that he's acting strange too. He talks to himself in the mirror. Momentarily tripping into some other reality then snapping back. Hearing whispers. He realizes he has the sickness. He realizes everyone does. His trips away from reality get extended. Reality isn't clear. And then eventually he crosses over. He attacks someone at random. The end!

Unfortunately this movie decided it didn't have the balls to be flat bleak and hopeless. It needed typical heroics and a playbook. Way too soon they abandon the intimate settings of being terrified by a neighbor-- and instead went with the typical government hazmat suited terror. Yawn-ish. That being said it was still entertaining in a superficial way. But dread drained away only to be replaced with theme park style scares. Scaring with jolts rather than creeps. And it did do that ok. But it could have killed. Maybe I'm too demanding of my horror films to get under my skin rather than the ones that just want to take me for a ride. But if I'm getting in a car like that-- I'd rather be on fire, music cranked and straight out driving toward a cliff. Not simply doing donuts in some high school parking lot... again.

Three Good Things About this Movie

- A few scenes (housefire, morgue, car wash) were well done and worked.
- I thought whoever played the deputy was extra good.
- It didn't overstay its welcome.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- Couples separating to explore on their own for no apparent reason.
- It cheated us out of a good slow build up.
- Sometimes I didn't really know what the hell was going on or who anybody was...

All in all, the excitement leading up to seeing this movie was way more exciting than the movie itself. Cheap shots like a friendly surprise grab on the shoulder worked for a yelp or two. But energy that was in the theater before the movie started slowly drained away. Any fears I had about being assaulted or being later labeled and referred to as an 'Innocent Bystander' by The Post fell away. The theater was calmed at the end. Nobody was clapping wildly at the credits The old man had his pants up. The teenagers were still a little jazzed but only mumbled their approval. And we all shuffled away from this forgettable horror eunuch-- again wishing that we had been thrown in bloody quicksand instead of just spending a horrorible day at the beach.

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