Starring Woody Harrelson, Amber Heard, and Jesse Eisenberg. Rated 18A.
A slapstick cartoon, gorefest, and sitcom all in one, the ridiculously entertaining Zombieland is the Fuzzy Navel of splatter movies. Though perhaps too stylized to be really scary, Zombieland still feels like an instant cult classic.
Watch the trailer for Zombieland.
Cheerfully grotesque, Zombieland is an energetic action comedy in the vein (as it were) of Tremors, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Shawn of the Dead. Though beautifully lensed and sometimes compelling, Zombieland is a grosser-outer with a non-stop body count played mostly for laughs, reminiscent of Shoot ’Em Up.
Director Ruben Fleischer sets the stage with a montage that visually references Spike Jonze and Zack Snyder, a sequence of tableaux that demonstrate the speed with which zombie infection erodes civilized life. We then meet a young man played by Jesse Eisenberg, whose unlikely survival is rooted in the paranoia developed through a life as a friendless nerd. For wanting to return to Iowa, he is dubbed Columbus by Woody Harrelson’s character, whose geographic method of nicknaming results in his own moniker, Tallahassee. Gleefully updating his Natural Born Killers persona as the sociopath with a heart of gold, Harrelson completes the Travolta-esque career resuscitation on display in No Country For Old Men. As suitably mismatched as Tom and Jerry, the two encounter a pair of girls, seemingly in need of rescue, duly dubbed Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
Its four main characters set, Zombieland takes the shape of a road movie in which the characters search for ammunition and sanctuary. What they are really doing, of course, is going from level to level. Each new set of the movie is a trap, alive with bloodthirsty freaks, from which our heroes have to escape. Double-crosses and secret agendas also come into play, emphasizing the rather cynical point that the end of the world is no time to stop conniving. There is also an astonishing cameo that can’t be discussed here, so loath am I to spoil the fun of a movie that is so literally tongue-in-cheek.