Among the many early George Romero films tapped so far for remake, "The Crazies" was perhaps the ripest candidate, since the 1973 original had a great premise somewhat underserved by the film itself. While not a slam dunk, this revamp by helmer Breck Eisner (of the enjoyable but underperforming "Sahara") emerges an above-average genre piece that's equal parts horror-meller and doomsday action thriller. B.O. prospects look healthy if unspectacular, with strong ancillary biz to follow.
Monsters of one sort or another may be a horror norm, but there's always been something more deeply frightening about the notion of seemingly ordinary folk suddenly manifesting lunacy. The striking core idea in Romero and Paul McCollough's '73 screenplay was to turn a small town into a petri dish experiment in infectious insanity, contaminated water turning citizens into homicidal maniacs who still looked like the folks next door.
That version suffered from a low budget, choppy editing, some amateurish perfs and overemphasis on arguments between military personnel sent to contain the epidemic at any cost. Eisner and his scenarists (Scott Kosar, Ray Wright) make changes mostly for the better, ramping up the horror factor via tighter focus on the imperiled locals and the requisite hike in gory violence. Still, purists may argue it's counterproductive to make the infected unsound in body as well as mind, their faces grotesquely marred and veined in the terminal stage.
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