Horror comedy Zombieland focuses on two men who have found their own unique ways to survive in a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a coward, an unlikely survivor, superbly played by ‘Jesse Eisenberg’ (Adventureland, Squid and the Whale). A mixture of fear and a lack of emotional ties to anyone have so far kept him alive. Living by a self made list of strict survival rules, he finds himself alone in a town he always felt removed from. Tallahassee, ‘Woody Harrelson’ is a gun toting, knife wielding zombie-slaying machine. He’s a man with nothing to lose and completely driven by one single goal; to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita ‘Emma Stone’ (Superbad, The Rocker) and Little Rock, ‘Abigal Breslin’ (Little Miss Sunshine, Signs) who have also found their own unique ways to survive in Zombieland, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or taking on the zombies alone.
Ever since George A. Romero’s 1968 small budget, black and white film, ‘Night of the Living Dead’, Zombies have always had a place in the heart of any cinema devote. Of late the genre has had something of a resurgence with such films as ‘Land of the Dead’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead’ dragging what was once a cult area of filmmaking kicking and gnawing into the mainstream.
Zombieland builds on the foundations of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and at first inspection it would be very easy to describe the director’s, Ruben Fleischer, debut feature as another lazy Hollywood ‘re-imagination’ of a cult hit. We have an unconventional hero in Columbus, a trigger happy nut, Tallahassee and to complete the ‘Rom-Com-Zom’ formula a young, attractive love interest in Wichita. However, what you don’t get is an opening act describing how this particular ‘virus’ came to infect mankind, there are no news reports or newspaper headlines left lying on the street, instead the audience is thrown straight into the thick of it all, into a dystopian world where zombies greatly outnumber humans.
Someone once taught me that all modern Sci-Fi films are 99% re-used, formulaic material and it’s what you do with that final 1% that turns an average film into a great one. Zombieland is a perfect example of taking that final 1% and squeezing as much individuality into it as will fit. The comedic dialogue shows more of a nod to recent indie hits (such as Superbad, Juno and Adventureland) than the tried and tested gore fest, complete with cheesy one liners and dated punch lines, that we’re used to being subjected to. It’s with this that Zombieland really pulls itself ahead of its contemporaries. The characters are well rounded with each one loveable in their own unique way, not to mention a wonderful cameo from one of cinemas modern day heroes. But if that’s too ‘cutsie’ for you, and for some of you it will be, don’t worry, the other 99% is full of what you want from an action horror. This is particularly true of the final ‘shoot-out’ scene, which takes place in an abandoned amusement park. We see our heroes slaying through fields of zombies whilst enjoying the fun of the fare. It’s truly the stuff of any violent video gaming boy’s dreams, where ammunition is unlimited and there’s no queue for any of the rides! In conclusion Zombieland is a rollercoaster ride of a film with enough needless brutality to keep ‘die hards’ happy and comedic turns to keep newcomers to the genre coming back for more.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Bill Murray
Release Date: 9th October 2009
Running Time: 87 Minutes