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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Review of Zombieland

So many zombie movies seek to infuse the zombie genre with pathos, with a wry commentary on society or the human condition…basically taking themselves waaay too seriously for a film about dead bodies trying to eat people. Zombieland does not suffer from such delusions.

What Zombieland does right is revel in the chaos of a zombie apocalypse. The characters refuse to give themselves names (the better to avoid "personal attachments") and instead go by their intended destinations: Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) the nebbish shotgun-toting recluse, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) a professional zombie killer, the winsome Wichita (Emma Stone) and her kid sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Each of them is trying to get somewhere, with vague hopes and dreams of finding family and solace. But the reality, of course, is that the survivors have little hope of finding anyone alive, much less their loved ones.

And that's pretty much it. Oh, sure, there's some back story for each character, and a budding romance, but mostly Zombieland is an amusement park where zombies pop up and get smashed down like blood-filled piñatas. It's also gut-wrenchingly gross, as every good zombie film should be. There's so much blood and gore, it even spatters the screen.

Throughout the film are hilarious rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse. It's as if Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide was grafted onto Evil Dead II. Columbus lives by these rules while Tallahassee regularly breaks them. The explanation of these Rules and the victims who break them are half the fun. And who can forget the Zombie Kill of the Week. Tallahassee keeps trying, but he just can't be that nice old lady with the piano. Whenever Zombieland gets away from its main premise (you know, killing zombies) it falters a bit. A cameo by Bill Murray is funny but not THAT funny, and it drags the movie down.

By far the best part of Zombieland is the zombies themselves. The slow-motion introduction is a piece of performance art, instantly creating a story just by the placement of the zombies and the (inevitably) fleeing victim with a look of horror on his or her face. By the time you see a guy in a bad suit running from a zombie stripper, you're in the right mood for Zombieland.

If you like Twinkies, fear clowns, and always stretch before any strenuous activity, you might just have what it takes to survive Zombieland. No fan of the zombie genre should miss it.



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