There’s something about zombies that make them the perfect antagonist. They’re scary because of the whole “uncanny valley” thing, they’re determined, and they’re difficult to kill. Whether they’re slow and deliberate like Romero’s classic creatures, or fast like the “Infected” of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (a good phenomenal British zombie film, yay!), they’re the most nightmarish enemies you can think of. What’s worse than evading your undead family? Evading the undead world.
Nevertheless, Shaun of the Dead has already proven to us that there is comedy in the zombie apocalypse, and Zombieland is perhaps an even better example of such. Opting for the fast “Infected” zombies, which are supposedly infected with a variant of Mad Cow disease (not swine flu, unfortunately), the film sees Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin take on the roles of four survivors of the human apocalypse.
These are not characters who make alliances very easily: Eisenberg plays a scared teenager who relies on his personal list of rules (including “Beware of Bathrooms” and “Double Tap”) for support; Harrelson portrays a bad-ass Twinkie addict with a penchant for killing zombies; and Stone and Breslin perform well as a pair of sisters looking for a safe place. After a humorous set-up, the four head for an amusement park which they believe to be free from infection.
There are some truly ingenious moments in Zombieland, from a very surprising cameo to some of the most creative zombie deaths in history. Shotguns and chainsaws are no longer the staple of the genre; banjos, car doors and toilet tank lids are the new weapons of choice for a budding apocalypse survivor, and cardiovascular exercise and seatbelts the new defensive measures.
Abigail Breslin provides one of her best performances yet, continuing to impress me; it was only recently that I discovered that she was Bo in the M. Night Shyamalan thriller Signs, Olive in Little Miss Sunshine and Anna in My Sister’s Keeper. It’s an impressive range for a girl just shy of 14 years old. The relationship between her character and her sister is portrayed realistically, and it’s not too long a shot to suggest that they look similar. You’ll probably recognise Emma Stone from 2007’s Superbad, another hilarious comedy (although with fewer zombies).
Overall, any fan of zombie films, horror films, or even just comedies in general should give this a shot. It’s easily accessible, hilarious, and is supported by some great acting talent. Just make sure to be careful in the cinema, I hear zombies can creep up on people watching films and try to give them a scare. Keep a shotgun nearby and loaded just in case.