Hollywood must have been waiting for this film for a long time. As soon as Shaun of the Dead exploded into our cinematic consciousness, revitalising the ‘horror comedy’, the American’s must have been thinking ‘if those Brits can do a zombie comedy then dag nam it so can we!’
Thankfully rather than grab on to the first script that came along like a hungry flesh eating ghoul, Hollywood has waited for the right movie. Their patience is our reward because Zombieland is absolutely brilliant.
The film is the story of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a regular teenager with obsessive-compulsive tendencies who is scared of everything and has never had a girlfriend. Oh, and he just happens to live in a post apocalyptic world infested by zombies.
His fear has kept him alive and the opening voice over explains the rules he has developed for survival, hilariously including Cardio and the Double Tap kill to make sure that the ‘dead stay dead’.
On his travels he teams up with gun totting Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson), a man who has found his true calling in life – killing zombies. Together with a pair of world weary, savvy sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) the dysfunctional band travel across American all in search of separate goals. Fighting to survive and to get along with each other, while crazed flesh eaters try to make lunch out of them at every step.
Much in the same way as everything they do, Hollywood has taken the humble British invented Rom-Zom-Com and made it bigger, louder and more exhilarating, whilst adding a hell of a lot more guns and explosions. This is no bad thing (apart from my personal disapproval of ‘fast’ zombies) and the movie is a gloriously gory laugh riot with a heavy doses of excitement on the side.
All this would be unimportant however if the script wasn’t as sharp, witty and brilliant as it is. A maggot infested belly full of laughs, at the centre of Zombieland is a touchy tale of belonging and love which plays along perfectly with the comedy.
It is also a cutting swipe at modern day America and credit is due to the relatively unknown team behind the film. The same team who have finally revived Romero’s original dual use of the undead, as both monstrous antagonists and satirical symbols.
The excellent script is brought to life perfectly by the brilliant cast. With Harrelson being especially enjoyable as the hard-ass, urban cowboy in search of the last Twinkie. Eisenberg’s jumpy, uncomfortable, likableness gives his performance an early Woody Allen-esque quality, and he is rewarded with many of the best lines.
Stone and Breslin are also well versed in comedy having appeared in Superbad and Little Miss Sunshine respectively. And their sibling relationship is touching and very believable. Add in an almost film stealing cameo from a Hollywood legend playing himself, and you have a cast to die for, literally.
From the hilarious opening titles over slow-mo zombie killings, to the explosive and exciting fair ground set climax, Zombieland has it all. Horror, comedy, whatever this film is… So much more than the sum of its bloody and beautiful parts, defying categorisation and making it one of the best movies of the year.
Additional film information: Zombieland (2009)