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The Crazies, Shutter Island (Spoilers)

March 3, 2010

I saw “The Crazies” and “Shutter Island” last weekend.

“The Crazies” is 101 minutes of gooey zombie goodness.

The creatures in “The Crazies” are only zombies in the loosest sense of the term.  They are not undead or always slow moving.  They can use tools and even speak.  They can be killed in all the same ways that people can, and not just through de-capitation or brain-destruction.  They are nevertheless very zombie-like in their obsession with killing people.  The zombies in “The Crazies” are people infected with a disease that makes them homicidal maniacs.  They are smarter than the infected in “28 Days Later” and capable of using tools such as shotguns, combines, door keys, and gasoline and matches.

As is often the case in films in this genre, the zombies themselves are less than half the danger faced by the protagonists.  The greater danger comes from other (non-infected) human beings.  Similar to “Quarantine” or “28 Weeks Later” (or even the non-zombie movie “Outbreak”), the government’s efforts to contain the outbreak pose the greater threat.  The dilemma faced by the government in such movies is the same one faced by the individuals caught up in the crisis, only write large: At what point do you write-off your loved-ones, friends, neighbors, or countrymen and defend yourself?  Or at what point do you give up and sacrifice yourself for their sakes?

“The Crazies” provides several dilemmas along those lines.  The best snippet of dialog in the film, IMO, occurs between two characters caught in a government quarantine camp where people showing signs of infection have been segregated from those people who have been exposed but may not be infected.  Two men who have been tested and show no signs of infection are discussing whether to take advantage of the chaos being caused by an attack from zombies outside the government compound to try to find their wives on the other side of the camp, who have both been identified as infected.  One wants to board the busses transporting the uninfected to a different location, the other wants to stay behind and try to help his wife.  The later says (paraphrasing from memory) “If you don’t ask me what makes me able to stay with my wife, I won’t ask what makes you able to leave yours.”

The direction and acting were quite adequate to the story.  The casting, while not as spot-on as “Day X”, was still good.

The advertising for “Shutter Island” claims the movie “will keep you guessing until the very end.”  This might be true if you’ve never seen any other movies intended to keep you guessing.   It might even be true if you hadn’t seen the advertisements telling you the movie “will keep you guessing”.  But once you know that this film will have a twist ending, you shouldn’t have any difficulty figuring out what that twist is.

The basic plot is that a federal marshal is sent to investigate a federal asylum for the criminally insane.  Strange things start to happen to him.  OK, now you have all the information you need to guess the twist.  It’s that easy.

Given the relative transparency of surprise ending, “Shutter Island” is rather slow moving.  The plot plods along down various false trails too slowly to really suck the viewer in.  The key to surprise-endings is that the audience has to be distracted enough by misdirection to avoid thinking things through.

“Shutter Island” is visually striking at times.  The dream sequences were well done.  But in the end, “Shutter Island” is an ambitious movie that doesn’t quite fulfill its ambitions

I enjoyed “The Crazies” more than “Shutter Island” perhaps because the expectations for a zombie movie are so much more modest than a suspense thriller that is supposed to “keep you guessing.”  “The Crazies” is everything a zombie movie should be.  “Shutter Island” wants to be “The Sixth Sense” or “Secret Window” but it isn’t.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Flex727 permalink
    March 3, 2010 6:04 pm

    Were there any zombie kraken in the movie?

  2. March 4, 2010 1:37 pm

    The next big kraken movie coming out is the remake of “Clash Of The Titans.”

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