Zombieland Review

Posted: November 20, 2009 in Review
Tags: , , , ,

Zombieland Review

Horror-comedies are the hardest films to get right. You can either rely on the comedy to get you through the first two acts (Shaun of the Dead) or you can go too far down the horror route and just have the occasional gag (Severance). Well, take heed, because this is one film that manages to achieve that golden statue and have horror and comedy taking place in the same scene at the same time.

A few weeks have passed since the first zombie bit his first victim and now the entire world has turned in a nightmare hellscape – lucky for survivor Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg on top form). Columbus was a loner before the zombie outbreak, and now he’s just as happy as always – only now he’s got a fantastic set of survival rules to which he’s planning on keeping. Heading out to find his parents, Columbus meets up with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson with the dial set to eleven), a man with an almost insane hatred of zombies and a love of carnage. On the long, deserted road towards home, the two encounter devious and likeable female con artists Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin), both of whom are on their own journey to Pacific Playground in Los Angeles. Along the way, they murder zombies, hang out with the superb Bill Murray and attempt to enjoy the little things that remain open to them in the new world.

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It’s a rare film indeed that can bring out deep, hearty belly laughs as you watch the world being destroyed. Normally something only achieved by Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay, the names of director Ruben Fleischer and writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese can now be added to this prestigious list. Within the opening ten minutes the number of inventive ways to show an apocalypse has hit an all-time high, while the huge array of loud, hard laughs on offer may see you struggling to breathe amid all the genuinely horrific violence.

The film’s real strength is the completely believable and totally loveable characters. The smart decision to focus on only four survivors leaves the writers with an incredible amount of depth to play with – hard man Tallahassee hides a disarming secret while the possibly virginal Columbus manages the impossible task of never once being an irritating Warcraft-playing nerd. Wichita and Little Rock even come across as likeable, despite every opportunity for the characters to be annoying – almost a miracle considering that Little Rock is a young girl in a horror movie. Massive props, too, to Bill Murray, whose short time on screen easily counts towards being one of the best roles of the year, if not the greatest cameo in horror history.

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In short, this manages the impossible. Horror fans, zombie fans, comedy fans and even romance fans will all find something to like here. Absolutely, hands down, the funniest, most gruesome and jaw-dropping film of the year so far. Nut up or shut up – this must be seen.

5 stars

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