Zombieland isn’t Your Typical Comedy Horror Action Romance
Some misguided moviegoers have foolishly avoided the recent theatrical release of Zombieland, perhaps for fear of a bizarre slapdash retread of the standard zombie apocalypse. Never have so few been so right and wrong all at once, for this brilliant film is both pleasingly familiar and excitingly innovative.
From the slow motion title sequence to the gopher-themed after-credits quotation of Jean Paul Sartre, the film delivers a pitch-perfect, potent blend of violent survival horror and absurdist comedy. While inspired by Shaun of the Dead, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have written a truly American zombie tale, with all of the firearms, big trucks and open — if corpse-strewn — highways unique to our great land.
As told by a reclusive college kid, Zombieland details a series of gristly encounters and accompanying rules to survive by. Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus gets his hometown moniker from another, considerably more trigger-happy survivor Tallahassee — maniacally played by Woody Harrelson. They soon run into the charming duo of Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) and almost instantly regret it. Their unstable group dynamic is a critical component of the film’s ultimate success, and helps propel the story recklessly forward.
While Zombieland is an undeniably bloody experience, the violence has a touch of style and cinematography that make even the most gruesome zombie kill a thing of beauty. The comedic elements are both dark and uplifting, and are at play in even the most dire of circumstance. Even the romantic elements of Columbus’ journey are naturally integrated into the storyline, and are charmingly innocent.
Whatever genre, or genres you choose to label the film, Zombieland is equal parts shocking and satisfying, but unlike the survival horror films that have come before, the message here is truly unique: Whatever these survivors were initially looking for, what they all find is a reason to keep fighting for life, and each other.
Written by Jeff in October of 2009. Last edited August 2015.