Someone in America made the fatal mistake of eating a bad hamburger infected with Mad Cow. Instead of slowly driving him insane and killing him, as usually is the case, the prion mutated, and caused massive brain swelling in its victim in a matter of hours, which in turn created a homicidal maniac with a contagious hunger for human flesh. Thus began the zombie apocalypse in Zombieland, 2009’s breakaway zombie comedy.
The hero of Zombieland, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), is a nerdy, introverted college kid trying to make his way home to Columbus, Ohio, all the way from Austin, Texas. In a series of voiceovers, he quickly introduces the audience to his rules of survival, like “Rule #1: Cardio.” If you can’t run, Jesse argues, you can’t get away from the zombies, which is hilariously illustrated by a cutaway shot of a zombie chasing a fat kid across a field. Rule #2 is that you shouldn’t cheap out on your bullets, or as Jesse simply puts it, “Double Tap.” Always use a second shot to make sure the zombie stays down. And so on. Indeed, Jesse’s rules are the basis for the movie’s comedy; each is followed by a hilarious example of what might happen if you don’t follow the rules.
During his travels, Jesse soon meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a wise-cracking, zombie-killing-machine on a deadly serious mission – to find a Twinkie. After meeting Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine” fame), they are tricked into surrendering their weapons and vehicle. A chase ensues. Without giving too much away, all we’ll tell you is that Columbus convinces them all to work together in their goal to get to Pacific Playland, an amusement park outside Los Angeles. Hilarity ensues.
Zombieland is more comedy than horror (zomedy?), so for those of you who are looking for gore and gruesomeness, you’ll have to get your fix elsewhere. There are scenes of zombies munching on hapless people, but the gore is minimal and secondary to the film. The zombies in the movie are mostly of the fast variety, so purists may not enjoy it as much as the typical Romero versions. And finally, because the zombies were created by mad cow, a brain shot is apparently not necessary to kill them.
However, despite these possible “flaws”, Zombieland is highly entertaining. It’s fast-paced, action-packed and laced with tons of dark comedy. I would guess that there is more humour than there are zombies and mayhem, but the movie still works – and works well, I might add. Woody Harrelson puts in a performance that more than atones for stinkers like Money Train. Jesse Eisenberg, a relative newcomer, plays the computer nerd perfectly and Emma Stone, well, she’s hotter than a Mexican’s lunch (as an old Hollywood director used to say). As someone in the audience said at the screening I saw, “This is how all zombie movies should be.”
Zombieland – I give it nine moans out of a possible ten!
If you’re not convinced, check out the Zombieland movie trailer!