Though it doesn’t come close to Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is an entertaining horror comedy pregnant with violence and gore.
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived the apocalypse thanks to formulating and sticking to his own set of rules. Most of America’s now dead and has a nasty taste for human flesh, so Columbus survives as best he can, staying fit and keeping a firearm at his side at all times. When he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), they form an odd couple that, um – actually, that’s about it.
Zombieland is pretty light on in terms of plot. In fact, it might have easily been a 20 minute short film. We get the slightest hint of character arcs and the basic drive of the narrative is pretty much forgotten within the first half hour. What remains is effectively an escalation of gruesome zombie slaying, which seems to be Zombieland’s raison d’être. It’s pretty good in this department. This film has some of the funniest ‘deaths’ since, well, Shaun of the Dead. It does have, however, an unfortunate over reliance on firearms, which cuts down on a lot of potential violence.
Eisenberg is perfect in the lead role – the idea that only the insanely paranoid would survive a zombie holocaust is a brilliant one. Woody Harrelson, disturbingly, doesn’t look like at 48 year old, and he’s fine in a role that doesn’t really demand too much, other than to have a southern drawl and fire fake weapons. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are solid performers, too, even if their respective characters, Wichita and Little Rock, try really hard to make us not like them.
It’s Zombieland’s lack of plot that disappoints. Whilst the violence is fun, the downtime in between action scenes can get rather dull. It also suffers from characters who make the worst possible decision every chance they get, and the payoff is never so impressive as to make this justifiable. The special effects are decent, and if there’s a lot of CGI here, it’s well hidden. The prosthetics are fantastic, however. One complaint about the production values is the obvious lack of soundtrack. The score is fine, in a non-specific, try-hard rock way, but what this film needed was some decent songs.
It may be the second best zombie movie released this year (and sport a nifty, budget-breaking set of opening titles) but Zombieland fails to succeed on many levels. It’s a bit of gory fun, nothing more.Rating: