Screenwriters: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Set sometime in the not-so-distant future, America has become nothing more than a post-apocalyptic wasteland due a nation-wide mad-cow pandemic. The infection leaves victims with “a swollen brain, a raging fever, made you hateful, violent and ... a really, really bad case of the munchies” (hence the zombies of Zombieland). Making his way across America is young Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) who has managed to stay alive so far because of his strict adherence to a set of survival rules (1. Cardio. 2. Double tap. 3. Beware of bathrooms). In his attempt to reach Ohio, Columbus meets fellow survivor, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson – and I realised I should mention that each character in the film is only referred to by their place of origin), who is not only an expert in the zombie-arse-kicking-business, but on a journey of his own (to find an untouched Twinkie). Their road-trip and zombie-killing spree is interrupted, however, when they are duped by a pair of adorable-but-dangerous trickster sisters, Witchita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin). Eventually the four survivors form a truce and decide to travel together towards the promise of the last zombie-free haven on the west coast, Pacific Playlands Amusement Park.
I love Zombieland (and apparently so do many, many others as it is the currently the top-grossing zombie film to date). Whilst I know a lot of zombie classicists prefer the slow-moving-serious-business zombies, I think Zombieland was the perfect contemporary balance of zombie lore, comedy and road movie. It is selectively and incredibly well-cast – I’m a huge Jesse Eisenberg fan anyway (and don’t try and compare him to Michael Cera!) and I was glad to see Emma Stone finally getting to play the bad-ass, tough-yet-vulnerable chick and show off her talent (because she is so much better than the awfulness of The House Bunny). Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin were the pleasant surprises for me – Harrelson in particular, who steals almost every scene as Tallahassee and has this perfect banter with Eisenberg, which they sustain throughout the film. The other thing I loved about Zombieland, and think it definitely helped set it apart, is the film’s use of titles and graphics.
It works perfectly as a method of reiterating Columbus’s rules for zombie survival, which I think adds to the broad appeal of the film (like with horror films, fans of the genre already know the ‘rules’ of what the character must do to survive – but this works as a great introductory tool for newbies too) and also gives it a video-game type quality. Also, the Zombie Kill of the Week moments are just priceless.
Zombieland is a fresh and fun look at the zombie genre and has by the far, the most commercial appeal of a zombie film since Shaun of the Dead. It’s fast-paced, funny and I think will strike a chord with even the most reluctant, non-zombie fans. I’ve also included a couple more (slightly spoilerish) caps of the film after the break, if anyone is interested. Enjoy!