Review #468 - Zombieland (2009)

Director:  Ruben Fleischer 
Cast:  Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin
Plot:  Two men have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. 

Genre:  Action / Comedy / Horror 
Awards:  - 
Runtime:  88min 
Rating:  M18 for horror violence/gore and language.

Nothing beats Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) when it comes to parodying zombie movies.  Having set the standard for the sub-subgenre, it is a tough act for anyone to emulate the success of Wright’s film.  

Zombieland, a debut feature of Ruben Fleischer, comes close to providing something akin to a horror comedy set within (but not limited) to the confines of the spoof genre.  It is an audience-orientated film which means it is made to entertain, and entertain it does.

The creatively done opening titles sequence provides a glimpse of more narrative creativity to come.  Zombieland is made to look like Survivor 101: How To Not Die In Zombieland. The narrator of the film, Jesse Eisenberg, who plays one of the four main human characters in the film, suggests numerous rules to follow (most of them devised from experience).  

Some of the more popular ones include “check your backseat” before you start driving, applying “double tap” to ensure confirmed zombie kill, and very importantly, the need for “cardio” to, well, outrun zombies.  So please cut down on that popcorn.

Those without prior knowledge to zombie films ought not to worry.  Zombieland gives easy-to-follow visual examples of what could happen if you are attacked by a zombie.  The results are usually not very pleasant.  On the other hand, if you happen to be a zombie and are attacked by Woody Harrelson’s zombienator character, the results are also not very pleasant. 

Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone make up the quartet of zombie killers who spend most of their screen time frustrating the hell out of the male half by ‘stealing’ their weapons and vehicle.  Despite its comedic nature, Zombieland can be suspenseful during moments when zombies may suddenly appear.  This is due in part to Fleischer’s decent characterizations of the film’s characters; as the film progresses, we worry about their safety.  Not many horror comedies can boast such sensitive treatment toward its characters. 

The climax of Zombieland set in an isolated theme park becomes the film’s most exhilarating action set-piece.  Prior to this comes another surprise, an unexpected cameo by one of Hollywood’s most likable comedic personalities who plays himself.

Zombieland is ninety minutes of fun.  Just make sure you follow the rules and have Harrelson as your tour guide. 

GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)

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