27 February 2010

The Crazies

I'm hardly a Romero scholar or anything, but it sure seems to me like he isn't interested in the individual. He tells stories on a more macroscopic scale. It's not that they lack characterization, though it's usually pretty straightforward and unsubtle; it's more like the characterization doesn't even much matter. The story, like maybe all Romero stories, is about groups rather than individuals. It's heavy on the anti-bureaucracy anti-military bent, but it's not black-and-white about who's to blame or even how whoever is to blame is to blame. So that's nice. It reminds me of his Dead films with their lack of explanation or easy resolution.

Naturally I watched this because of the remake coming out. A movie that kept being bumped down my to-watch list got bumped back up. It's a real shame it's been remade as a standard zombie movie, because the concept of a virus that makes people alternately delusional or raging violent monsters is a really great set-up. I mean, everybody's yelling at everybody the whole time. All that stress-induced infighting and frustration with the collapsing system just ends up looking symptomatic of the Trixie virus. And every time someone gets confused or disoriented, they descend into a paranoia of "I've got the bug, don't I?" Who should the military kill becomes who shouldn't the military kill? Nobody seems entirely free of the virus because the symptoms are just exaggerations of natural reactions to situations this crazy. Personally, I think that's so much more interesting than another killer-zombie film.

In other words, this movie is begging for a tightly scripted, character-driven, tragically paranoid remake, and I'm 99% sure that's not what's playing in theaters right now.

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