Review by Jack Foley
AT A time when most horror films exist to either shock or sicken (or both), it’s refreshing to find one that’s prepared to do something completely different and deliver a really good time at the movies as a result.
Zombieland may carry the [undead] whiff of yet another zombie comedy, but it’s a brilliant blast of fresh air that functions on many levels.
First and foremost, it’s a knowing horror-comedy. But it’s also a coming-of-age love story and a road movie populated by some of the coolest characters of the year.
The casting is savvy, the direction near-faultless and the fun quota through the roof. What’s more, it clocks in at under 90 minutes and will definitely leave you hungry for more.
The plot follows the fortunes of geeky teen Columbus as he bids to exist in a world populated by zombies by strictly adhering to his own survival guide.
Hooking up with a self professed zombie killing expert named Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) to further improve his chances, Columbus seeks to reunite with his family while Tallahassee seeks out the elusive fresh Twinkie.
Their mission is further complicated, however, by the arrival of two sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) who cannot be trusted, and the older of whom Columbus fancies his chances with.
Zombieland may play within well-trodden genres but it still manages to feel fresh and exciting to boot.
It’s past movie knowledge is exemplary and used to fun (not geeky) effect, while the various scenarios it creates for its protagonists abound with ingenuity. Various zombie kills are both amusing and imaginative – witness the death by piano or Tallahassee’s clever Deliverance reference as he strikes at a foe with a banjo.
And yet amid all the bloodshed, mayhem and joking around, director Ruben Fleischer ensures that you’re able to care about the characters.
Harrelson’s Tallahassee is a big softy at heart no matter how hard he pretends to be, yet retains an air of cool, while Eisenberg’s Columbus has an endearing everyman quality that makes his burgeoning relationship with Stone’s equally alluring Wichita worth rooting for.
What’s more, their romance – while fleeting – doesn’t get in the way of the smooth flow of the movie; but rather enhances it.
The theme-park based ending, meanwhile, is both suitably outlandish in the grand blockbuster tradition and effectively feelgood so as to leave you buzzing for some time afterwards.
But where Zombieland really makes the leap from 4 star to 5-star recommendation is in its glorious extended cameo from Bill Murray, which is guaranteed to raise the roof.
It ensures that Zombieland emerges successfully as one of the most enjoyable blockbusters of the year… smart, funny, violent, sexy – and utterly unmissable.
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: March 15, 2010