Director – Ruben Fleischer
Cast – Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
As a big fan of Texas born Woody Harrelson, I was uber stoked when I saw that not only would he be portraying an ass-kicking cowboy, but an ass-kicking cowboy kicking zombie ass! With those two elements combined, and a good amount of zombie gore and action, this flick provided all the necessities of being a positive horror/comedy.
Zombieland follows a Michael Cera-esque Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, a longer(and virgin) making his way through a zombie plagued world in search of his family. Along the way he meets up with Tallahassee(Harrelson), who decides to take the little “shit” with him in his search of none other than a zombie-free haven, and Twinkies. They soon encounter the sister duo of Wichita(Emma Stone) and Little Rock(Abigail Breslin) who are on their way to a theme park said to be free of zombies. What ensues next is a fun and witty ride full of zombie action and a hilarious celebrity cameo sure to make it’s way into film lore as the best celebrity cameo ever.
This flick is director Ruben Fleischer’s first feature film effort and I can see him having future horror projects lined up for him after this film’s success. Heavily inspired by the amazing Shaun of the Dead, Fleischer gave us the goods while still managing to not lose complete focus and turn this into an overly “Hollywood” film. Thank you!
Right from the get-go this film takes off with zombie carnage and sets the witty tone we are exposed to throughout the film. Jesse Eisenberg does a lot of narration throughout the film, which makes this a bit of a sillier effort for a horror/comedy, thus forcing me on many occasions to refer to this film as a comedy/horror, sadly. The “Rules of Zombieland” aspect of this film was clever, and provided something I had never really seen before in a horror film…a “game show” feel. Some horror purists may have problems with that, but all in all it was creative, and I respect that.
As I mentioned earlier, we get some surprisingly good zombie carnage in this film. Zombieland does come off as a sillier effort for most zombie comedies, and that did bother me a little bit because I was not sure whether or not Mr. Fleischer would pass on the gore or not. Thankfully, it seems he remembered the fans and is a fan of the genre himself because he managed to put in a decent amount. None of the gore was over the top, but it was enough to keep us gorehounds entertained. The pacing for this film was also well done. The film never really dragged, even during slower dialogue-driven parts during the second act. How’s the humor? It was alright. I never found myself laughing out loud like I have in other horror/comedies, but with this film’s Superbad feel(minus the dick jokes, sadly), it was enough to keep me entertained.
I really did enjoy this film, although I did not find to be as great as I hoped it would be. This may have a lot to do with the fact that I personally did not like the first half of the film. Jesse Eisenberg’s character was as cliché as Vin Diesel playing some “badass” with crappy tattoos. I honestly saw him as Michael Cera in disguise, and if there is a definitive list of overly cliché actor in Hollywood these days(if there isn’t one, I‘m making one!), Michael Cera makes that list. But wait! The cliché works do not stop there. As usual, because this is a horror film meant to appease the masses, Emma Stone had to join the likes of her cliché brethren and portray the typical female “badass” with a scared background. Thankfully, by the time the second act of the film kicked in most of the cliché personas were dropped due to the characters finally starting to get along and feel for each other. I honestly felt that the second half of the flick(when they make their way to Beverly Hills) saved it from becoming some lame horror/comedy attempt, and you will see for yourself what I mean if you decide to give this flick a chance. READ ON.
From “Beverly Hills” on, this flick becomes a fantastic ride full of great laughs and even better zombie carnage than the first half. The celebrity cameo mentioned earlier is literally “to die for” and has already made it’s ways through internet talk and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets ripped onto Youtube this week. I smell one million + plays in less than a week!
Overall, this is a fun watch that I definitely recommend to all, horror fans or not. It has the goods to please gore hounds like myself, and has enough laughs and fun-filled adventure to please those not overly into the horror genre but looking for an enjoyable film.