This Week at the Movies: Zombieland

For those readers familiar with gaming culture, the best way to describe Zombieland, directed by Ruben Fleischer and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is that the movie is Left 4 Dead: The Movie. For those unfamiliar with the highly popular shooter, this movie is just what one would expect from the title. It is an hour of half of thrills, spills and laughs galore. What Zombieland has done is created a witty and entertaining twist on the zombie apocalypse film. While maintaining the gory horror aspect that has made these sorts of films so famous, it is still able to take the genre completely over the top and poke fun of itself at the same time.

In a parallel present day United States, a virus that originated in a tainted fast food burger has turned the vast majority of the population into cannibalistic zombies. All rules of social order and law have been destroyed and emotional attachments have been considered a hazard to survival. The story follows the awkward college student known as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), named after his city of origin. Before the plague, he was the stereotypical shut-in. He is completely neurotic and paranoid, but this has made him quite adept at surviving in this new world. During his travels, he encounters the man known as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), an outlandish and slightly crazy gunslinger whose main goals in life are to become zombie killer of the week and to find a Twinkie.

At first, there is tension between the two unlikely friends, but soon they grow on each other. They soon run into Wichita and Little Rock, a pair of sisters who try to swindle the men of the movie, but eventually join the team. A unity forms between the four in an effort to reach Pacific Playland, an amusement park and a haven devoid of zombies. The plot is relatively uninteresting but creates and excellent backdrop for the characters and jokes. These aren’t your usual group of zombie survivors. Harrelson steals the show with his abrasive dialogue and ridiculous methodology in zombie carnage. Eisenberg does an excellent job at playing the cute nerd and his meticulous nature in fighting the undead is often just downright hilarious, particularly his rules for surviving zombie land, which appear on screen through various points in the movie as events transpire. The viewer will find themselves loving and laughing with the characters throughout.

The production quality is also very high in the movie. Despite being a comedy, the film has a nice gray scale that lends itself more to the horror aspect of the movie. The most notable design aspect of the entire movie though would have to be the makeup. The blood and pestilence oozing from every orifice of the zombies is disgustingly beautiful and at times a little too realistic. No two of the zombies look alike and their deaths as well done as they are disturbing. Sound design is also nice aspect of the movie, from the gurgling destruction of the zombies to the assault weapons that were their undoing; everything feels believable.

There is just something so entertaining about watching zombies getting relentlessly blown to bits by people with big guns. It’s even better when you’re laughing while the zombies are being destroyed. It is because of this that Zombieland shaped up to be the film it is. It is an excellent synthesis of two opposing genres that doesn’t come off as being corny or as trying too hard. Even if you have never really appreciated the survival horror film or have never really partaken in the ultraviolent, don’t count this one out. There’s a little something for everyone here and to miss it would be quite a shame.

Contact Will Hazzard at [email protected].