In The Crazies, Timothy Olyphant makes a great town sheriff. He earned his stripes on the show, Deadwood, a town where it was not uncommon to solve petty disputes by blasting one’s adversary away in front of the nearest saloon (and these were everywhere – the town probably had to pass with some difficulty, a city ordnance that not every business be a brothel or a saloon).
Olyphant as sheriff Dutten, has to cope with something even more sinister than prospector BO, in this case a virus called Trixie, which finds its way into the town’s water supply when a military jet ended up in a local bog (Ogden Marsh, Iowa being the kind of place that’s so sleepy, the impact of a large aircraft crashing into said bog didn’t even rouse the townies)
As the authority figure in these kinds of movies, it is of course incumbent upon the hapless sheriff to sound the alarm. But unfortunately for everyone concerned, shutting off the town water supply would compromise the growing season and hence the local economy!
Slowly but surely, people living closest to the water utility start behaving strangely, even more strange than putting the almighty dollar ahead of a dire health emergency.
In the middle of a baseball game, the violent town drunk (is he expressing opposition to the designated hitter rule or overcome with the bug?) staggers into left field wielding a shotgun. And, this being rural Iowa, it doesn’t raise any eyebrows until he starts aiming it someone (and even THIS doesn’t cause widespread panic…the appearance of a gun in an urban ballpark would definitely cancel the seventh-inning stretch).
Sadly for Sheriff Dutten, filling the trigger-happy tankard full of lead doesn’t stop the weirdness. More people are infected by Trixie and are turned into murderous, well, “crazies”.
Finally, it’s time for the US Army. Locals are quarantined (President Obama, that’s a pretty good argument for universal healthcare right there) and to ratchet up the creepy-meter, they’re kept in the dark, as are the soldiers about their mission.
Residents are caught between being shot on the spot if they breach the perimeter or perhaps worse, dealing with the growing number of homicidal raving loons in their midst. Things are done with pitchforks that would make you look twice at American Gothic.
The sheriff, his young wife and two other characters find themselves themselves on the run.
Apart from some low-rung runaway truck CGI and nearly superhuman abilities of our four heroes to not ingest any food or water while fighting for their lives (this red herring is halfheartedly dealt with—-not to worry, they got spotty internet connectivity and cellphone reception covered), this is a pretty fun, slick and fright-filled remake of the George Romero original.
***1/2 (out of 5)