Working in a vein similar to – if not quite as successful as – Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead do-over, replete with intro use of a Johnny Cash song (here, a cover of “We’ll Meet Again”), Breck Eisner’s remake of George A. Romero’s 1973 The Crazies is a testament to the value of understated genre craftsmanship. In the type of small town U.S.A. John Mellencamp would adore, a local sheriff (Timothy Olyphant), his doctor wife (Radha Mitchell) and his deputy (Joe Anderson) attempt to deal with a fast-moving plague outbreak that’s turning their neighbors insane. As in Romero’s version, water polluted by a mishandled government bio-agent is the culprit, and the gas-masked military – which quickly shows up to contain (i.e. slaughter everyone in) the area – is as dangerous as the lunatic townsfolk. Though Eisner’s fleet-footed film never develops its characters beyond two-word descriptions, his cast’s rock-solid performances and his get-to-business approach are more than enough to compensate for the material’s inability to create strong empathetic connection to its main players. Similarly, the director may not contextualize his mayhem in contemporary hot-button fears and anxieties as Romero did, but his no-nonsense stewardship keeps the action consistently taut, moving swiftly from one cleverly conceived and executed set piece to another (highlights being a stop at a car wash and a resourceful knife-to-the-throat). From its society-in-flames scenario to its apocalyptic zombie-ish imagery, no new soil is tilled here. Yet The Crazies’ suspense is effective enough to eventually eclipse its familiarity, the film a tried-and-true B-movie content to simply do its job well.