Zombie horror films may not strike you as something that falls under sci-fi or fantasy, but there are certain rules to be considered when making such films. How do people become zombies? Is there any hope for a cure? How long before the whole world is infected? And so on.
But then there are the kind of rules that drive a young undergrad to go from an isolated longer to a fearless hero, and those rules can be found in Zombieland.
With this film, we get a realistic take on the hypothetical Zombie Apocalypse–namely, that it’s all too easy to just break everything in sight and trust no one. But as our protagonist finds himself running into other survivors, he begins to develop a kinship with them, and then it’s a matter of the whole group surviving in a world without rules or reason.
Hands down, Woody Harrelson steals the show as Tallahassee, a gun-toting action man with a chip on each shoulder, braving the zombie-infested wilds for one last Twinkie (I swear I am not making that up). There’s also some good old-fashioned dorky chemistry between Wichita (Emma Stone) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) really drives home the point about losing one’s innocence in the Apocalypse.
Now that I’ve talked about performances, I do want to get into the rules that Columbus develops and explains over the course of the movie. I won’t say too much for risk of spoiling this delightful film, but it’s safe to say that the writers took the time to seriously think out the implications of Life After The Outbreak and all the ways one might succumb to death by the ravenous undead.
And as a warning, this film is gory. As in eating-people-alive and-chewing-out-their-intestines gory. But if you can get past the initial shock factor, then it’s a hilarious take on people trying to survive and keep themselves together–not so much a satire on the genre as a refusal to be overly serious and melodramatic. But there are still plenty of bittersweet, tear-jerking, and heartwarming moments, so you will definitely be feeling for each of these characters by the end of the film.
It is comedy gold, albeit a little blood-splattered. The carnival sequence at the end is alone worth the price of admission.
Bibliography: Zombieland. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Produced by Gavin Polone. Perf. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin. Columbia Pictures, 2009.