The Crazies' Radha Mitchell on how the horror remake is relevant

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Radha Mitchell is going a little Crazies.

The actress, who's done a good bit of sci-fi and horror over the years—what with Pitch Black, Visitors, Silent Hill, Rogue and the upcoming Surrogates—returns to the horror genre in The Crazies, a remake/re-imagining/re-invention/re-whatever of George A. Romero's 1973 semi-classic of the same name.

"I had seen the original, and I'm sort of a fan of Romero's sensibility," Mitchell said in an exclusive interview earlier this month. "I think he's got a lot to say, and he says it in a really interesting, pop-culture way. This movie has a similar message, and it works with the same plot. The story is the same, but obviously it's a much bigger movie and there's more energy behind it. I think [director] Breck Eisner has done an amazing job. It felt scary while we were shooting it, so I'm hoping that translates."

In the film, all hell breaks loose in a modest American town after a man-made toxin taints the local water supply and causes the area's residents to go a little loco. OK, a lot loco. The "crazies" aren't zombies, but rather people stripped of anything resembling inhibitions or humanity. Among the few people unaffected but surrounded by crazies as they struggle to flee the town are Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) and his wife, Judy, played by Mitchell.

"She has got a little bit more to say on her own in this version," Mitchell said. "What's interesting about the story is that they're kind of a couple that are on the run together for the whole film. It's nice to see a husband and wife versus the crazies. And then there are a couple of other characters that are part of that journey. I really enjoyed playing that dynamic of a couple facing all of this together and getting through it together."

Eisner is fast becoming a buzzed-about director in Hollywood. And after working with the guy for a couple of months down on location in Georgia, Mitchell thinks the next-big-thing talk is justified. "I think he's been building up to something pretty big," Mitchell said. "He just finished this movie, and there's a few other things he's got cooking right now. And, yeah, he is definitely very dynamic."

The Crazies will unleash its fury on moviegoers beginning on Feb. 26, 2010.