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We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay)

September 6, 2011

You really do have to be careful what you read. The posters, the trailer, the advance word, and now the Blu-Ray box will tell you that We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay), the debut feature of writer-director Jorge Michel Grau, is a full on “cannibal gore-fest” (to quote just one crit). There are numerous stills being bandied about showing either aggressive or terrified people slapped liberally in blood, but in only one instance – and a very very brief one at that – has the claret been administered for the dreadful reason you might assume.

The film starts with a static camera at the top of a shopping mall’s escalator, in, we later discover, Mexico City. An old and clearly unwell man rides to the top of the staircase. He is distressed and extremely frightened. He falls to his knees, retches, and collapses, dead. Shifting to an overhead shot, janitors from the mall rush over and remove him, another sweeps in and cleans the mess up quickly. Moments later, a couple walk across the very spot where he expired, oblivious.

Across the sprawling city, in a more chaotic world entirely, the man’s wife and children await his return. When they realise he is the man they have heard about dying at the shopping centre, they are thrown not just into grief but a real, fierce terror. The man was the patriarch, but he was also their provider. The full import of this fact hits home as the man’s body is opened up in the morgue and a human finger is discovered in his stomach. The mortuary assistant is unimpressed, even amused. “More people eat other people in this city than we realise,” he comments. Normally it is blamed on the rats (“the two legged ones,” he scoffs).

For the family left behind, though, this is no laughing matter. Suddenly faced with a life-threatening crisis they must learn to act, and fast. Their compulsion is one of the strengths of the film for it indicates a massive unexplained world at play behind the set-up. There is a madness here, sure, a proper, seeping madness that has created around it, by necessity, an accepted mythos. The kids, the mother, must eat and follow ‘the ritual’, an unseen, briefly mentioned obsession. Behind their front door, in an apartment oddly stuffed with unexceptional relics and tat from previous encounters, the family circles around itself in a shared state of mutual OCD. They pile boxes high, they rip cloth and knot it for no rational purpose, but this thing, any mention of this “rite” drives them on.

In a shadowy, dark, meaningless world, their determination to fashion some purpose to their existence is hypnotic. The children, a sweaty trio of unspoken urges and bewildered torment, who cannot trust outsiders and can barely trust themselves, pass their new-found responsibility around like an unwanted ugly gift. They need to continue but no-one wishes to take over the mantle of leader. Eventually, the young girl, the forceful Sabina (Pauline Gaitan) convinces her bother Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro, in an extraordinary performance) to go out into the packed streets and subways and underpasses to find the ‘something’ (their term for food) that will help them survive.

Stepping out into the clamour of Mexico City begins the process that guides the story to its climax. On the metro, Alfredo watches people, seeing only their hanging arms, or hands or legs. He is frightened but inescapably driven. A woman starts to sing and at first it seems that she is a beggar, but she stops and explains that she used to sing to put her child through school, and now he has just graduated from University, and so this performance is to thank people. She puts a small piece of paper into everyone’s hands. Alfredo reads it, it says, “Estás Vivo”. You are alive. It is a moment of beauty (the song is exquisite, the intention sublime) bumping up against the gruesome and the macabre.

I would protest that We Are What We Are is not really a horror film at all, certainly not in any conventional sense. Admittedly it addresses some horrific subjects and it will draw people to it simply on the promise of such revelations, but in reality this is something else entirely. It reminded me of Benito Zambrano’s Solas, a very careful study on loneliness and alienation which begins, as here, in composed, dreamy, and unhurried arthouse style; we are more in thrall to mood and texture than anything else. There are also distinct nods toward Romero’s Martin and of course Let The Right One In, but it should be remembered that there are no supernatural elements here at all. The transgressions here are real and all the more frightening for that.


The Woman

September 5, 2011

Lucky McKee’s The Woman is really “Lucky McKee’s and Jack Ketchum’s The Woman“, since the film maker and novelist created the story, co-authoring the novel upon which the movie is based. Both have a pretty forceful reputation in the horror field, of course, including work that has overlapped before (the troubled Red, from 2008 ). They clearly understand one another and that sympatico vibe creates, if nothing else, a hit the ground running start for a movie that propels the viewer very quickly into a nightmare.

In an arresting opening sequence we’re given a dream, a bold move indeed, where the eponymous character is seen running through the darkness, encountering herself as an abandoned baby and being discovered by a wolf; yes, you see, The Woman is about a wild child, now in adulthood. But this is no Nell, for the woman is discovered not by a noble Liam Neeson type character, but by a complete asshole. Chris (a simply alarming Sean Bridgers) is a prize prick, who discovers the woman (Polyanna McIntosh) while out hunting and in what seems to be an astonishing move, decides to capture her and keep her in his barn.

Chris rules his family through a combination of fear and, well, fear. Outwardly, a charming and intelligent man (he runs a successful legal firm in the local town), behind closed doors he’s a manipulative bully. He introduces his wife and kids to the woman and tells them that they are going to civilize her. That this is so readily accepted seems to indicate that they live in complete thrall to such a monstrous man (it is an extraordinary development, their complicity, and will puzzle and trouble you right up until the climax).

This is handled very well towards the end of the movie’s first act. The dynamics playing out in this dysfunctional, scared family are remarkably well observed and addressed, particularly through the adolescent boy, Brian (Zach Rand), whose cautious and then, whoah, way not cautious, aping of his father, says in a few broad strokes everything you need to know about the dreadful misuse of power within families. Zach’s two sisters, one a moody insular teen, the other a wide-eyed innocent pre-teen, also sketch out the nastiness and predetermined paths they have been forced down. The horror should be coming from them, it is certainly bad enough, affecting enough, troubling enough.

But The Woman, despite this, seems to be far too keen to exploit the extreme plot point it has brooding away in the darkness. It is impossible to avoid the nastiness locked away, of course, and inexorably we move toward a conclusion where that extremity will be exposed. Much like deadgirl, another intense idea that could have worked right up until the moment where they insisted on making everything so real, The Woman cannot, unfortunately, waste the notion that there is a crazed amazon chained up, open to abuse and clearly very fucking dangerous should things get out of hand. Up to a point you might even get away with saying that she’s a cypher, a representation of everything the family fear in varying degrees: for the father, strong women; for the boy, sex; for the girls, enslavement. But in the third act, we have to, we simple have to, start ramping it all up and asking for a bit of blood.

I cannot tell you what happens as that would constitute a series of massive spoilers, but it is, for me, a third act that enjoys its crowd-pleasing self way too much, looks up Grand Guignol in the auteur’s dictionary and thinks, “I can do better than that”.

The Woman will be overshadowed for many by the viral video of a man walking out of a Sundance screening and decrying it for all manner of sexist crimes. Fair enough, in fact there is a bit of lingering on Mcintosh when she is stripped, there is a moment of cruelty that could have been played with more restraint, but that protester missed the point, I believe. The Woman is not the piece of shit he claims, for it has hidden away some excellent observations on gender and the blurring of family sexual boundaries (and yes, these may be easily missed, or at least the ending may erase them as it thunders along). It just doesn’t need the woman. Or the last 30 minutes, for that matter. In their eagerness to make a great horror movie, Ketchum and McKee didn’t realise that they could have cut out all the horror and still succeeded.

I Spit On Your Grave

September 27, 2010
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It’s a well-established truth that those over-familiar cultural landmarks you’ve never actually experienced, but just think you know, are never, when you finally get around to them, what you expected. Take my current discovery – David Copperfield – which confirms this theory and, of course, has thoroughly confounded my presumptions. It is, obviously, why the classics are the Classics and why we should make room for them.

It is not true, however, of possibly the most famous of that tranche of movies we in the UK have come to call the Video Nasties. I Spit On Your Grave, AKA Day of the Woman, the infamous rape revenge flick from 1978 still, quite justifiably, stirs up intense feeling. In his impassioned criticism of it, Roger Ebert called the thing “a vile bag of garbage”, and he’s absolutely on the money. Not only is it fucking awful, it is guileless, unsurprising and utterly artless. It is exactly what you imagine it to be, should you wish to waste your imagination in such a way. In fact, imagination is way too bright and creative a word to use. It’s a film about a gang of men who rape and torture a woman repeatedly, believe her to be dead, and then, when she returns in the final reel, suffer for their actions. Don’t think beyond that. That nauseating idea you now have in your head is all that it is, and less.

Slamming a movie so lacking in craft (it looks like crude video rushes thrown together, it has virtually no dialogue, it is badly recorded, there is no direction, and that’s without mentioning that it is an exploitative piece of crap) isn’t sport. In the end you devolve into a head-shaking doubt-wracked mess, wondering if you’ve become that reactionary fool you always swore you’d never turn into; but here it’s justified. Looking at I Spit On Your Grave now, looking at it then, is as unpleasant as it gets.

Which brings me to the re-make and a lot of areas that I feel very uncomfortable inhabiting, but, hey, I want to unscramble this.

You see, despite many many misgivings, one of the things I am definitely unable to say about the new movie is that it lacks craft. Indeed, it is extremely well crafted. Moreover, it is an effective and lean machine put together solely – it seems at first glance – to show support for the female character (Jennifer, played by the excellent Sarah Butler). The basic story is the same but it has been embellished and thankfully shifted around to eradicate the grim feeling that I never managed to erase from before, that by being attractive, by sunbathing in public, and then by using her wily charms to later lure the men individually to an unexpected rendezvous – she takes a bath with one of them – the girl at the centre of everything was somehow complicit in her predicament.

Now, yes, Jennifer is still a pretty girl, but she’s conspicuously successful, intelligent, charismatic and much more importantly has placed a boundary around herself. The fact that she is still assaulted in her holiday home dispenses with any she-asked-for-it defence. You might think this is an unnecessary comment, but beneath the bleak cold shadow cast by that first film, believe me, it needs saying that these men step over a line. This concept is further emphasised by having a character she is expected to trust shattering that confidence in the worst way possible.

When the assault takes place, the threat and tension had been ratcheted up to such a degree that I was expecting something as unwatchable and soul-staining as similar scenes in Irreversible or Baise-Moi, say, but that’s not the case and although what we get is deeply unpleasant and most definitely not entertainment (again, you’d think it unnecessary to say that, huh?) for the most part it is implied, or is suggested as happening during Jennifer’s understandable blackout.

Although none of this first half of the movie could ever be defended as some sort of feminist manifesto, what isn’t beyond doubt is that the film is on Jennifer’s side. We’re on Jennifer’s side. Unquestionably we don’t want this to happen to her, and when it does we want it to stop.

In the second half, well, that’s something entirely different. The revenge section of the first film is a comparatively brief matter. What that says, I’m not sure. Here, it’s what it’s all about. Undeniably, this hits all the right buttons for an audience baying for blood. The way Jennifer dispatches her tormentors mirrors the different ways in which they humiliated her (the guy who video’d her has ‘something’ done to his eyes, the cruelly handsome thug who cannot bear the idea of not possessing her loses his manhood, etc.). There’s a primitive satisfaction to it all.

But is that progress? What sort of balance have we redressed with that? We’re given an itch and it’s scratched for us. And you know what? It’s done very smartly, very creatively; and, yes, once you’ve been beaten into submission it is appealing to see these monsters taken apart like this. I don’t deny that when Jennifer is betrayed and you know there’s no hope left for her, you want the man who has deceived her to suffer (and trust me, he does). But I Spit On Your Grave leaves a foul taste.

The film is being marketed on it’s unrated status. Indeed, on IMdB it’s now known as I Spit on Your Grave: Unrated. It’s a repulsive enough phrase without having to add anything so salacious as the intimation that it’s too strong for a certificate. The poster shows Sarah Butler’s almost bare bottom (peeking out of an outfit she doesn’t actually wear in the film, it’s a copy of the old poster from the seventies). The tagline is “It’s Date Night”, a phrase lifted from a sneered line in the movie, but given, in isolation, it’s own particular brand of wince-inducing inappropriateness. As a lesson in what is wrong, this remake works almost too well. As an entry in the new canon of re-imaginings of old horror standards, it is, I’d say, unique because it trumps its source material at every turn. But when it starts to turn into Saw (would a rape victim bent on revenge really decide to ‘get inventive’?) and when the only way left to sell it is on smirks and nudge-nudge insinuations then what’s really been learnt?

Stars? I think I’ll leave it unrated…


August 31, 2010

A friend of mine, to whom I’d not spoken for some time, asked me yesterday if I’d seen any good movies recently. This was 48 hours after Film 4’s FrightFest, where I’d seen some utter dreck, but where I’d also managed to catch the sublime Monsters. As I told her the premise, I could see her eyes glazing over. “It doesn’t sound like anything I’d fancy,” she said. And I could see her point.

“Six years ago,” runs the press blurb, “a NASA probe returning to Earth with samples of alien organisms, crashed over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear there and half of Mexico was quarantined. Today the American and Mexican military struggle to contain the giant creatures.”

You’re thinking District 9, right? Or something along those lines, but that ball park. And if you have no science fiction or horror leanings at all, then I bet, just like my friend, you’re reaching for the Off switch around about the start of the second sentence? I can’t say I blame you; the movie described there is not the movie I saw on Saturday night. But, shit, you have to get the punters through the door somehow, and Monsters is such an unusual little film (little in budget only, in scale and ambition it’s genuinely epic) that it may struggle – in fact, no, it will – to find any kind of audience at all.

Aptly, it stars two people who impressed in separate movies that are as far apart as one might get, other than that their budgets were both pretty modest. Scoot McNairy, who mooched around with a decent dollop of Indie cool in the Woody Allen-esque In Search of a Midnight Kiss, and Whitney Able, the High School bitch so memorably chased across a field by a car in All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, coming together here with a perfect chemistry that might otherwise defy such cross-genre melding.

This is, you see, a love story. And a road movie. And there’s some social commentary thrown in. And a little – a very little – bit of politics. So you can see how difficult it may find hunting out an audience. What with the aliens as well.

I’m being glib. Monsters is predominately a love story. It follows Andrew Kaulder (McNairy), a feckless and frustrated photojournalist working out of Guadalajara, who is charged with escorting his newspaper’s owner’s daughter, Sam (Able), through the infected zone and back into the US. When the official and security-monitored transport links break down, the couple are soon relying on dodgy connections, corrupt officials, and ultimately their own instincts to survive. For the most part, for the vast vast majority of the time, this is an attritional challenge fed to us purely through third party references, through anecdotal evidence, through the TV, through threats perceived rather than encountered. Noises off are heard, but the creatures are hardly ever seen. For many, I fear this will mean the movie falls betwixt and between all the bases it is trying to cover, but for me it was almost perfect. The hints and threats as the two protagonists limped towards their final goal added to what we felt about the characters, not how good we thought the CGI might be.

It is a languid and beautiful film, set out with a scope and sense of awe that so much popular cinema simply no longer bothers with. That it takes the time to do this, and do it all so well, means that when the climax comes it is all the more affecting for having involved you so personally. A satisfying and quietly impressive movie, director Gareth Edwards has debuted with some style, I just hope that somebody takes notice.


August 11, 2010

this is all Spoiler.

Last night, I dreamt I went to see Inception again. It seemed to me I sat in the auditorium, and for a while I could not understand what was happening on the screen for the story was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The movie wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as I had expected. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change had come upon it…

I reckon Hitchcock would have liked Inception. Hitch enjoyed allowing you time to concentrate on something you thought was properly important (Marion’s stolen cash, for instance) only to batter you with an unseen sucker punch at the end of the second reel. Personally, I don’t think he particularly cared for his audiences and was just happy to get his jollies knowing he’d cruelly misdirected them to buggery and back. The movies were a shared experience, but it was all on his terms. Well, Inception is all one massive misdirection, and I really do mean all of it.

The plot’s as Big Concept back-of-a-postage-stamp simple as it gets; some people can go into others’ dreams and steal secrets.

Only they can’t because…woah…overlapping thread. Yes, sorry, no, they can. They really can. Probably.

It’s called ‘extraction’. It’s a form of extreme industrial sabotage. Specifically we’re talking Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (brilliant support from Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who set up dream scenarios so that they can enter a person’s subconscious at their most vulnerable – when sleeping – and rootle around looking for goodies. These scenarios are actual living worlds, designed to the finest detail where the victim will feel comfortable enough to act naturally. Then, there’s ‘inception’, where you go in and plant the germ of an idea, so that the target believes it to be his or her very own spark of inspiration.

Stop and think at this point. What sort of half-assed straight-to-video Eighties shit is this? It’s a Jeff Fahey film. It’s a Ben Cross film (as a priest, I expect). It probably has an ex-Bond girl in it. None of the words in the title would ever be Inception, but one would definitely be Dream or Dreamer. It would have a scantily-clad blonde on the cover with wires attached to her head by blue suckers.

But it’s none of those things. Inception is a masterful account of how, if you can get people to accept one bold concept then, fuck, why not add another? And another. And another. And this paragraph could go on. Christopher Nolan, as he proved in Memento, is strikingly adept at giving us any number of balls to juggle, and then sending us spinning as we try to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the patterns we think we’re seeing. At which point you decide to do something else entirely. That he does this so easily and manages to throw in some genuinely beautiful visuals is testament to a) a major imagination and b) a skilled film-maker.

Thing is, Inception‘s misdirection is to have us thinking about dreams and dreams within dreams (and dreams within that, and then that) but actually it’s about love and obsession. Specifically, Cobb’s for his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who pops up in the dreams as a subconscious imposter that he brings along with him and who almost always tries to ruin things. Why does she do this? Is she working for another agency? Is it something altogether darker than that?

Now, Inception works – that misdirection, above, works – because of a neat little trick that should really be too cheesy to be allowed; the fact that it does illustrates just how well the game is being played. You see, there is no such thing here as reality. Not a second of it. Maybe when the titles go up and we step out blinking into the foyer, but in the film? No. I won’t try and convince you that I got that as I watched. I didn’t. It took one break in the dream I’d just witnessed, one crack that nagged as I thought of it later – in the movie the dreams breaking up are represented by buildings crumbling or the elements going crazy – and once I allowed that in everything followed. It was a tortuous night; this is a movie you take home with you.

For me, it was a name that did it. Ariadne. I’ve always loved that name, and it was a delight to hear it. So unusual, poetic. Ariadne (Ellen Page) is Cobb’s architect, newly acquired to design the elaborate and labyrinthine dreamscape where they will stalk the mark they’ve been given. I wondered why they’d named her that, it seemed such a bold thing to do. It was a go-check moment. So I went and checked. 3am, I hop out of bed (I really want to say I knew this, but I can’t) and look at wikipedia. Ariadne, you’ll find, has form in helping people through difficult environments, because there she is in the Theseus myth, “she fell in love…and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of red fleece thread that she was spinning, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.”

Ariadne isn’t a smart throwaway reference. She first appears in what we feel comfortable believing is the movie’s reality base world, Our World if you will. It seems logical. Cobb’s in dead schtuck and needs a new architect, along she comes. Then he’s suddenly sent to Mombasa, to meet a new member of his team, whereupon, in a vast and confusing city he stumbles upon not only some men sent to capture him (Cobb is living under threat of extradition and cannot see his children), but also, just at the right point, an ally who can save him. It seems logical. This ally, it turns out, can resolve all his problems. It all seems logical. The way it’s presented, it all seems logical. We’re in Reality, so it must be.

Back to Ariadne, because she’s the key, remember? Was this just a nod and a wink, a literary echo to allow the writers a moment of smugness? I don’t think so. Because I don’t think Cobb is an expert in Subconscious Security at all. I don’t think he can enter people’s dreams. Of course he can’t. This is a cineaste’s film, it’s a film-maker’s film, and if that’s the case, I’ll quote another movie: the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The greatest trick here is that Cobb/Nolan convinces you his world does exist. I don’t think it does. Ariadne’s the clue because she tells you that even at the basest of base levels you’re in a clever man’s head and she’s your way out. She’s your ball of twine, your trail of breadcrumbs, if you like. Cobb’s invented her to show you that the Reality here is his first level of dreaming and that he knows she’s a Classical figure, a knowing acknowledgement of the entire artifice. This base world, as the trip to Mombasa shows, is filled with dream logic, not Real World logic. The entire thing, credits to credits is Cobb constructing a majestic maze in which to hide Mal and then deal with her…

You’re not watching a film, you’re watching a man trying to make sense of reality. It’s the most elegant dupe I’ve ever witnessed.


July 19, 2010

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a fairly invisible high school student whose major concern seems to be worrying about how few friends he has on MySpace. He’s not unhappy, just normal and a bit unsatisfied. After a dull and frustrating mugging where a stranger ignores his fate he makes the decision to become a super-hero called Kick-Ass.

Despite getting very seriously hurt in his first crime-fighting encounter, he continues with his plan to restore his version of social justice.

Meanwhile…on the other side of the city…

Two real caped vigilantes, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his frighteningly young daughter, Hit Girl (Chloë Moretz), are embroiled in a fight to the death against large as life and twice as ugly crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). As they pick off the kingpin’s goons a misunderstanding develops that means D’Amico believes Dave/Kick-Ass is his tormentor.

To save him from almost certain death, Big Daddy and Hit Girl intervene on one of Kick-Ass’s nightly patrols. And it is at this point that the movie becomes something entirely new and eye-opening. Bursting in on a drug den where Dave is getting utterly owned by a bunch of thugs, it is Hit Girl who signals the shift.

“Okay you cunts,” she says, “Let’s see what you can do now.”

And then she kills everyone. Nastily.

Some of this is just plain wrong. Which is fine, but you have to go in knowing that, otherwise the sight of an eleven year old girl chopping a drug dealer’s legs off below the knees will come as a substantial shock. All the more so since it follows a fairly long Geek’s Journey Through Amusing Knocks storyline that entertains but doesn’t really pull up any trees.

Moretz is the dark little heart of the second half of the movie, and although it’s sometimes very funny (and Cage has a great time sending up Christian Bale’s Dark Knight turn) it’s never 100% comfortable watching an 11 year old schoolgirl dishing out ultraviolence and swearing like a trooper,although that’s a feeling which may have been heightened by watching her being beaten up by a 45 year old man. But boy, she carries it along. Energetic, foul-mouthed, darkly funny and spikey, there is even a smidge of vulnerability thrown in there at just the right moment to trip you up. And no-one has ever said the word ‘bazooka?’ with more intensity.

It’s not for the faint-hearted. Laughs there most certainly are, but some of them you have to pay for.

A touch flabby around the sides and perhaps 10 or 15 minutes too long, Kick-Ass isn’t brilliant, but it’s a rollicking and unforgettable ride, and oddly enough, I’d kill for a sequel.

The Crazies

July 19, 2010

Ever wondered what a horror movie would be like if the protagonists a) worked out what was happening early on, b) made sensible decisions at the right times, c) started off connected rather than having to go through all that sickly bonding shit via the trauma, and d) showed their vulnerabilities in natural and understandable ways? If so, you’ll welcome The Crazies, a notional remake of George Romero’s 1973 movie of the same name, and, surprisingly, a really rather good one.

I haven’t seen the original and I don’t want to; for a horror fan I have an unusual position regarding the Master of the Undead, and that position is ‘meh’. I guess I’ve seen all the ones of his I should (the zombie sequence that made his name and which he now leans on rather too heavily, Martin, Monkey Shines, The Dark Half, Creepshow) and I think that’s enough research right there, thanks. He’s OK. You know, I suppose. I’ve never got the fanboy stuff, like at all.

So, I don’t know if the new film sticks to the old one well or not. Reading the synopsis off IMDb just now it would appear to. “The military attempts to contain a manmade combat virus that causes death and permanent insanity in those infected, as it overtakes a small Pennsylvania town.” Well, swap Pennsylvania for Iowa and you have the story pretty much in a nutshell.

The film starts with sinister intent, as a gunman shuffles across the outfield of a baseball game on the first day of the season. Sherriff Dave (Timothy Olyphant) confronts the man and is forced to drop him when the gun is raised. At around the same time, Dave’s wife, Judy (lovely Radha Mitchell), the local Doctor, sees a patient exhibiting disturbing characteristics. When the same guy wastes his wife and child a few hours later, Dave and Judy put their shit together and work out a pretty feasible explanation – a shared psychosis, possibly water-borne – which later proves fairly on the money. We’re a quarter of an hour in and clearly the Dave and Judy show is none too shabby.

The Crazies has a lot to fit in, and so there’s not much dicking about, and no-one goes down dark basement stairs in their panties, or puts a gun down at an inopportune moment. Dave and Judy have a believable relationship, and despite a Desperate Dan jaw of epic proportions, Olyphant doesn’t mind looking shit scared when, well, when any normal person would have good reason for looking shit scared. Fair play.

Ultimately, it tries to pack a wee bit too much in and the ending is a tad overblown (there’s a pun there), but as an action movie, this works pretty darn well. It says good-bye to the horror at around the half way point, but then it would be difficult after making a lot of smart decisions to go back and undo what it’s manged to put in place. Not a great film, by any means, but way way better than you’d expect, and the two leads are likable and worth rooting for.