Zombies. Gore. Woody Harrelson in search of Twinkies. A gun-toting Emma Stone. And a Ghostbuster. There aren’t many more things horror fans can ask for from a movie.
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Written by: Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Released: 2009 / Genre: Horror/Comedy / Country: USA / IMDB
Buy on DVD: Amazon.co.uk: DVD | Blu-ray
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To its detriment, Zombieland feels too much like a post-Shaun of the Dead re-imagining geared to tempt an American audience to the comedy-horror crossover sans the British pop culture references and the English pub setting. It’s either that or a cash-in on what has become an extremely popular genre in the last few years. We must be going through an economic depression or something. But that is being grossly unkind to what is a stylish, imaginative and at times very funny film with two particularly good performances (one from Woody Harrelson, the other from a seasoned comic pro who will remain anonymous in this review since his surprise cameo is one of the highlights of the film).
Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus who, after a mutated strain of mad cow disease turns the rest of the world into flesh-eating zombies, tries to make his way from his college dorm to his parent’s home town to see if they are still alive. He lives by a certain set of rules that have served him well so far such as to always check the backseat of a car before driving off, and shooting the cannibalistic monsters twice to ensure their demise.
When he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) after losing his car, the gun-toting Twinkie detective agrees to take Columbus with him. But after stopping off at a grocery store they are conned out of their vehicle and weapons by two sisters – Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Finding another vehicle loaded with enough ammunition to bring down a small city, Columbus and Tallahassee drive on only to encounter the sisters once again. Suggesting a truce, the four apocalypse survivors head to Los Angeles in the hope it is the only zombie-free place left.
Ruben Fleischer directs the film with plenty of verve. The stylistic titles accompanying the rules Columbus talks about have a graphic novel aesthetic that is so popular in this Scott Pilgrim versus the World era. The film is also suitably gory but played with tongue firmly in cheek, and the cameo of a comic great midway through the film is something to savour. But the director is aided by writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese who deliver a witty screenplay that makes enough references to the conventions of the genre to satisfy long-time fans, while comically referencing the film’s contemporary American setting to add something new.
Jesse Eisenberg does a commendable job as the nerdy hero. There’s a new niche of film heroes it seems: the non-conventionally good-looking wimps who steer clear of the jocks and the princesses in high school corridors preferring to avoid stressful physical activity in order to play video games and watch pornography. These new Hollywood kids such as Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jonah Hill can stand proudly next to Jesse Eisenberg as Hollywood’s new brand of hero. Woody Harrelson is the perfect seasoned muscle to go along with Eisenberg’s skinny stature while Emma Stone provides the female camp with hot looks and a good set of balls.
Although the film lacks a quality ending and becomes more run-of-the-mill in its final quarter, it is an enjoyable and witty romp across country. And watch out for that cameo Ghostbusters fans!
This review is part of 31 Days of Horror: