Dir: Ruben Fleischer
Hold on a second, I know what you’re going to say. Another fucking zombie movie!?! Yes, I felt the same way when I first heard about Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg. Like many others, I have had my fill of zombies. Between the constant stream of Romero films, Romero film re-makes, Xbox games, the 28 Days, Weeks, Months series and Will Smith fighting off flesheaters, there is such a thing as zombie fatigue. But, Zombieland is a comedy? Sorry, Shaun of the Dead already filled that niche quite nicely.
Yet, Zombieland somehow manages to be refreshing, exciting, gory and funny. Let’s be honest, this film is not scary in the least. In fact, rather than even consider it for the horror genre, Zombieland fits well under the classification gory comedy. The world has been overrun by the undead, we learn from a voiceover by our hero Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) as the film begins. But rather than focus on the origin of this plague (it came from some rotten food), Columbus instead explains to us the rules of surviving a zombie attack during an inspired, classic prologue. We swiftly learn that the out-of-shape, incautious and miserly do not stand a chance, each rule augmented by someone gorily dispatched by a zombie for not heeding Columbus’ words.
When Columbus heads off to his Ohio hometown to find his family, he encounters badass Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), one pissed-off redneck with an appetite for Twinkies and they buddy up. As you probably surmised, survivors are reduced to naming themselves after their hometown. Together, the two men set off to find someplace not overrun by the undead.
There is no reason to disclose any more of the film’s minimal plot. Columbus and Tallahassee dispatch zombies, get into trouble and try to survive. Though not as witty or intelligent as Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland makes up for its rote nature with pure bravado. Of course, Eisenberg’s habit of playing a loser virgin streak is still intact and Harrelson is just as unhinged as one would expect, but Zombieland is all about playing up to expectations. It’s the fresh antidote to the darkness surrounding Danny Boyle and George Romero’s apocalyptic visions. Sure, the end of the world is nigh, so why not have fun with it?
Director Ruben Fleischer expertly finds ways around the cookie cutter story by employing novel integration of voiceover, flashback and Columbus’ rules into the proceedings. Though the film does move towards an implausible climax, there are just too many laughs and gross-out effects to really care. Come on, are you going to see a film called Zombieland and take it seriously?