Written By: AR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers(s): Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Producer: Gavin Polone
Date Released: October 2, 2009
Jesse Eisenberg – Columbus
Woody Harrelson – Tallahassee
Emma Stone – Wichita
Abigail Breslin – Little Rock
Bill Murray – As Himself
Rating = 2/5 Graves
***May contain spoilers***
Modern American society, now known as the United States of Zombieland, is ravaged by a disease that turns people into flesh-eating zombies. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a phobic and paranoid recluse, develops a list of rules he must follow to ensure his survival while the chaos and infection spread. Along the way to his hometown in Columbus, Ohio to see if his parents are still alive, he encounters Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a wild man with a penchant for killing zombies, destroying everything in sight, and Twinkies, and Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), a pair of sisters conning their way across Zombieland. Altogether, this unlikely set of characters kill zombies, meet Bill Murray, and form a motley crew whose greatest strength is relying on each other.
The film does not shy away from depicting gore, which is appropriate for a zombie movie. Within the first minutes of the film, a zombie with blood dripping from its lips runs to the foreground and rips the flesh and guts of a human with their teeth. The opening credits also feature a montage of infected zombies spewing blood and guts as they chase their human targets. During Columbus’ first zombie encounter, he closes the door on the zombie’s foot, breaking the ankle and making the bone protrude. As the movie progresses, zombies feasting on guts, flesh, and bone are shown, as well as and zombies being shot or hammered directly in the face. Blood and carnage are heavily featured in the film and prosthetic work of the zombies’ appearance is realistically and masterfully done.
The Grave Review
With a lot of zombie movies in existence, what makes it stand out from the rest is the richness of its world building and lore. Zombieland (2009) fails to deliver on that. After only a brief mention of Patient Zero getting it from a contaminated gas station burger two months ago, there is lack of narrative on the origin of the zombie disease and how the world reacted to it which diminishes from the film’s depth. As a viewer, the lack of description of the zombies on a zombie movie is a frustrating experience. What are the zombies’ capabilities and weaknesses? How do you kill them beyond doubt? How strong are they? If they could run, could they also climb? The inconsistencies in the storytelling distracts you from rooting for the heroes’ survival.
Having said that, the strength of the film lies in the characters and their eccentricities. The movie dials down on the ravenous zombies once they focused on the heroes’ emotional journey. Columbus is an idiosyncratic introvert who has avoided people even before the apocalypse, managed to survive on his own by not deviating from a set of rules he cultivated in his zombie encounters: do cardio, double tap the zombies, fasten your seatbelts, etc. He learns to play it safe by following the rules and not being a hero. Then there’s Tallahassee, a skilled zombie-killing machine whose main goal in the apocalypse is to search for an elusive Twinkie. Wichita and Little Rock are a pair of con artists who managed to use their sisterly act to survive in Zombieland. Together these unlikely band of misfits, who seem to be the only living human beings left in existence, managed to set aside their differences to band together to survive against the flesh-eating zombies. With the lack of focus in flesh-eating carnage, at the very least, the film managed to flesh out the motivation of the character to survive in the zombie apocalypse. The movie also adeptly tugs on feelings of nostalgia. It invokes twinkies and amusement parks, comforting childhood treats that serves as a reminder of the things gone by.
Another strong point of the film is its impeccable comedic delivery that is achieved through succinct editing. The exposition of the so-called rules during several scenes gives it a subtle comedic relief. The characters have great chemistry and banter, allowing you to believe their attachment to each other during the apocalypse. The scene with Bill Murray is also ridiculous but not an unwelcome one.
Overall, Zombieland (2009) is a fun comedic movie with enough blood to whet the appetite of the horror aficionados but not enough to scare of viewers just looking for an enjoyable time. It is more of an adventure road trip movie than a horror one, it just happens to feature zombies in it.
Because of the above reasons, Grave Reviews gives Zombieland (2009) two graves out of five graves.
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