If you’re looking for a scream-inducing, edge-of-your-seat sitting, hair-raising horror flick to fulfill Halloween’s need for fear, “Zombieland” may not be for you.
If you want a hilarious, post-apolocalyptic, undead-themed 80-minute action-comedy, you’re in for a treat. The storyline is simple: in the not-so-distant future, scattered with debris of our time, humanity is gone. Zombies rule.
First time director Ruben Fleischer cuts the movie of useless background information. No real explanation to how this zombie take-over came about except for a quick reference to mad cow disease.
The characters lack actual names. Instead, they call each other by the city they once called home, as to avoid emotional attachment. Imagine: a world where humans protect themselves from emotional attachment by not getting too close, a possible satirical effort made by writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese.
The film centers around the cautious, far-from-alpha-male Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and AK-47 wielding, reckless-yet-always-on-target Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).
Columbus finds ways to incorporate his newly developed and slightly neurotic “rules” on how to survive in Zombieland (Rule #31: Check the Backseat) to the plotline.
Columbus and Tallahassee eventually become cohorts with con-artist sisters Wichita (Emma Stone of “Superbad” fame) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine”) as they head to Pacific Playland, supposedly a zombie-free amusement park in California.
At one point they find themselves in the presumably empty, ostentatious mansion of Bill Murray. The house-owner makes an unexpected cameo, for no real reason except for humor.
By the time the group reaches Pacific Playland, the culmination scene is exactly what one would expect: amusement park rides, an influx of zombies, and some serious killing sequences.
Due to the conciseness of the film, a definite lack of character development results.
With quick scenes of their dismal lives before the takeover, it is possible to presume that these characters’ former lives are better suited for the world of Zombieland. One might even speculate that each character remains in Zombieland because of their unique survival traits.
Columbus is portrayed as a nerdy shut-in, while Tallahassee’s lifeskill is his ability to accurately slaughter zombies. Wichita and Little Rock both work the helpless, damsel-in-distress act, but are both prepared to fight with the confidence to intimidate (Breslin ruthlessly fires a shotgun without hesitation and seamlessly blames it on, “all those violent video games.”)
Despite their eccentric qualities, there is spot-on chemistry between the odd mix of sole survivors. One of the best scenes of the movie is their interaction during the road trip to California.
Is this movie one of the greatest displays of Zombies killing ever cinematically filmed? Not necessarily. Will it provide creative surprises? Probably. Will it keep the laughs and startles coming this Halloween season? Definitely.