Zombieland (2009)

Dead funny

Horror and comedy are two of the most difficult genres to get right on the big screen; it takes a filmmaking team of great skill to illicit terror or laughter from a wide audience. It all rests on the timing; from the dialogue to the performances, the shooting style to the cuts made in the edit suite, everything must be perfectly packaged to provoke a base emotional reaction – and, all too often, one or all of these elements falls short and the whole point of the film is lost. Not so with Zombieland. In fact, this balls-out, gun-totin’, action-packed, laugh-out-loud horror comedy is about the most fun you could have in a cinema without getting arrested.

A zombie holocaust has decimated the USA but the story, by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, doesn’t concern itself with the whys and wherefores. Instead, it’s about survival in this all-new zombieland, and so we meet self-professed coward Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) who has escaped the clutches of the living dead not through any heroics, but through following a carefully constructed list of rules. Including the ‘Double Tap’ (shooting zombies twice to make sure they’re dead) and ‘Cardio’ (keeping fit so you can outrun the marauding hordes), they have seen him stay alive where others have failed (in glorious slow-mo). When he meets up with the no-nonsense Tallahassee (Harrelson), a fearless renegade who delights in dispatching zombies with anything that comes to hand. Heading cross-country, the boys meet up with sisters Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin) who, they soon discover, have learnt to take care of themselves by any means necessary.

Packed with action from the off – our introduction to Columbus sees him dispatching a couple of zombies in his trademark no-nonsense style – Zombieland is a simple yet utterly breathless slice of movie madness in which surviving has become entertainment. From the awesome ‘zombie kill of the week’ snippets to the most fantastically jaw-dropping A-list cameo you’re ever likely to see, it’s an absolute riot from start to finish. The performances are enthusiastic, the dialogue is snappy and the kills are an absolute riot; in short, it does exactly what it says on the tin, and does it perfectly.

5 stars

Stars Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Woody Harrelson
Director Ruben Fleischer
Screenplay Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Certificate 15
Distributor Columbia Pictures
Running Time 1hr 28mins
Released Out now