Reviewed by: Alex Lagerwey. Viewed on: 23/12/2009
‘It’s time to Nut up or Shut Up.’ – Tallahasse.
Film trends come in waves. I remember back in the day (those heady days) when I was a young teen, there was a glut of horror films inspired by Scream and The Blair Witch Project. If you had to pinpoint a trend of the past few years, its creature films. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, mutants, whatever. They are everywhere. And every now and then, you meet fans of the creature-feature genre who love it so much, they are willing to make an awesome piss-take.
Ruben Fleischer, making his feature-film debut in Zombieland is clearly a lover of the genre. The film chooses not to focus on the apocalypse or the cause of plague (which is revealed in a few throw away lines), but accepts that there is no cure and humorously gives you the rules to survive Z-Land…if you can.
Jesse Eisenberg plays one of the remaining few humans as the anal-retentive Columbus, who not only narrates the film as a giant ball of nerd-stereotyping, but lists his tried and tested rules for remaining un-zombified. The only other film I have seen Eisenberg in was Adventureland where he plays pretty much the same character, minus the Zombies. According to IMDb he has five more films in the works, so I’ll be hanging out to see if his range goes beyond standard nerd and delves into something more Hamlet-esque.
Columbus teams up with a few remaining survivors: Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson, the gun-wielding, red-necked, twinkie obsessed hick whose one skill in life is kicking zombie ass. Along with Witchita and her sister Little Rock, they head on to Hollywood where they meet the mother of all cameos and a giant blood filled theme-parked show down.
Zombieland has drawn many comparisons to another film that falls into the rom-zom-com genre, Shaun of the Dead, with Fleischer admitting that the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost masterpiece was his main inspiration. Coming away from the film I felt that both Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead indicate the key differences between American and British humour and to a lesser extent, their filmmaking styles. Where Shaun of the Dead is witty and clever with its running gags and comedic timing, Zombieland is crude, bloody and violent. Where the filmmakers of Shaun would opt for the laugh with flying records and zippy one-liners, Zombieland goes for the jugular, sometimes quite literally. Whenever there is a quite moment it is quickly interrupted by a plethora of weapons: chainsaws, pickaxes, motor vehicles and guns, guns, guns. With Shaun and the gang, the only gun that is used is for comedic effect, whereas everyone in Z-land wields their massive weapons with the precision of a surgeon, right down to 12-year-old Little Rock. Where Shaun is a super-nerd, his nerdom allows him to become a hero whereas Columbus is always overshadowed by the brute force of the mantastic Tallahassee.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed Zombieland more than I can express and if you’re looking for some good, dumb, clever fun with loads of gore and one kick-ass title sequence, this is your film. But when it comes to taking the piss out of Zombies, no one does it better than my boy Shaun.