[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B002W5V63G][/pullquote] For years zombie films have been loosely based on George A. Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead. Zombies were reanimated corpses with a taste for human flesh, an idea that tapped into our fears of isolation and paranoid anxiety relating to the sense of self. In 2002, Danny Boyle reimagined the zombie as more of an infected human in 28 Days Later… and then in 2004 Shaun of the Dead was released integrating romance, comedy and fear into a provocative mix of film genres. Cashing in on this popularity, Zombieland was released in 2009 to commercial success and at the time became the highest-grossing zombie film in the USA.
Set in an infected, zombie-ridden USA, Zombieland follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) as two men brought together through necessity, trying to survive in the harsh new world. On their travels they meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and the four people form a familial bond on the road to allegedly the only zombie-free place in the country, an amusement park called Pacific Playground.
When we are introduced to Eisenberg’s nervous, skittish Columbus, he explains his list of survival rules, with helpful flashbacks to why each one is important. This sets the tone running throughout the film as one of dark, black comedy. There are nice reminders of these rules whenever they are employed, and the film-makers have clearly taken great pleasure in making sure that their characters are always aware of the troublesome world in which they inhabit.
The zombies themselves are gruesome and disgusting, but lack the real imposing threat of a Romero zombie. This is not a problem however, because at the heart of the film is a story about finding family in the modern world. The casting is stellar and the comedy is great throughout, with little touches like ˜Zombie Kill of the Week’ never disappointing. There’s even one of the best cameos in any film with one of the truly great comic actors of all time.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Zombieland is a great blend of comedy, terror and heart-warming family drama, which stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Shaun of the Dead at the very pinnacle of zombie films.