Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Mike White, Bill Murray
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Expectations: Lowest possible. Modern zombie movies generally rub me the wrong way, but I’m stupid and I keep watching them.
This is not a zombie movie. I repeat, this is not a zombie movie. If you love traditional zombie films such as the George Romero classics, you are better off just re-watching one of those. From what the film shows us, hardly any zombies inhabit Zombieland. Most of the “excitement” coming from the fights and betrayals that play out between the male and female survivors. Even the apocalypse cannot settle the battle of the sexes. All kidding aside, this is absolutely the antithesis of what a good zombie movie should be. It is a stupid attempt at making a zombie comedy, but instead of being clever (like Shaun of the Dead) this just disappoints repeatedly.
Rarely is the survival of the characters an issue and therein lies the problem. Survival should be the main theme of any zombie tale because the zombie horde is ever-growing and as one of the last remaining humans you must constantly tap into the primal instincts of fight or flight. Your nerves fray as you know that sooner or later, you will become one of them. None of that comes into play in Zombieland. Sure, the main character has these survival rules he’s constantly telling the viewer about, but the rules are nothing more than fluff to draw your attention away from the almost complete lack of honest zombie danger.
That being said, in the moments where characters are threatened, the logic employed by these characters is so fatally flawed that I wondered if they were actually trying to get killed. Horror film logic is always a few notches below standard, but in Zombieland they really take it to the next level. I expect young girls to fall while being chased, I expect people to drop their keys, but consider this scenario that plays out near the end of Zombieland.
Two characters drive a Hummer through an amusement park. A crowd of zombies chase the car and some jump on the car. The characters inexplicably and purposefully drive the car straight into the ocean, jumping out at the last second. So now the zombie crowd that they could have easily outdistanced in the car, gets increasingly closer. The two characters run directly to the drop tower amusement ride, strap themselves in and ride the ride. Huh? Yep, just what I would have done. The characters are then surprised when the crowd of zombies catches up and waits at the foot of the ride for their descent. Really? Remind me to shoot these filmmakers first when the zombie apocalypse hits.
For a movie billed as being all about killing zombies, there is a surprising lack of zombie hunting, most of which is in the trailers. Zombies are really only present on-screen in a major way during the beginning and the end of the film. Honestly though, I can see a lot of people really liking this movie as it seems right in line with a lot of tired mainstream offerings. Teen boys will eat this fetid corpse up. They can have it.