Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland (2009)
  • Time: 88 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Director: Ruben Fleischer
  • Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin


Searching for family. In the early twenty-first century, zombies have taken over America. A shy and inexperienced college student in Texas has survived by following his 30 rules: such as “look in the back seat,” “double-tap,” “avoid public restrooms.” He decides to travel to Ohio to see if his parents are alive. He gets a ride with a boisterous zombie-hating good-old boy headed for Florida, and soon they confront a young woman whose sister has been bitten by a zombie and wants to be put out of her misery. The sisters were headed to an LA amusement park they’ve heard is zombie free. Can the kid from Ohio get to his family? And what about rule thirty one?


  • George A. Romero’s Living Dead trilogy has left quite an impact on today’s culture. Although the actual phenomena has never been a fact, the idea that an outbreak of whatever causes this possible danger could happen, is reason enough to be prepared (just in case). Of course, the concept sounds preposterous but anything is possible nowadays. Technology and science are our greatest weapons no matter how much they excel our lives. With that, multiple zombie genre films have been created decade after decade portraying zombies in new and outrageous ways. However, has anyone every jotted down the key things in every film that tends to get zombies their meal of the day? Well unless you watched them all, the best way would probably be seeing this movie here. Remember that Nickelodeon TV Show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (2004–2007), which gave all the tips and sparknote clues on how to survive middle to highschool? Well this is basically the same thing in feature length movie form instead with zombies.

    Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)) as their first theatrical screenplay and headed by Ruben Fleischer in his first directorial debut, this collaborative trio managed to put together a solid horror comedy that is fun in a number of ways. The story follows a group of random individuals living among a planet of unlimited zombies, looking to get to their own specific destination. Audiences are first introduced to Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a scrawny geek who has trouble socializing with people and hasn’t had one girlfriend. Along his travels he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a funky human swiss-army knife that has a hankering for Twinkies. Then comes Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), a pair of scam-artists that are convincingly good at their craft. The best thing about Reese and Wernick’s writing is that majority of the story focuses around the characters and that’s important when it comes to development and there’s plenty of it too.

    The second best point made are the guidelines Columbus refers to the audience about key thoughts one should have in mind if being chased by zombies. If this were real, this would probably be the briefing video on how to pull through. The characters themselves do have personalities of their own but the most memorable character of the bunch was Tallahassee. Harrelson looked like he was having a blast in his role and definitely took advantage of every moment that required some amount spontaneity. The only part of the writing that doesn’t work in this film’s favor is the comedy. It is funny a number of times but only because of how stupid goofy it gets. By this, it means that the world these characters live in don’t take the situation very seriously. For example, “Zombie Kill of the Week”,…who’s even keeping tabs? It’s funny but ridiculously nonsensical. One of the rules mentioned is to “Enjoy the little things”, which is fine for some cases but it does seem a little overblown if people are having contests on the best kill on a weekly basis.

    Other than that however, the special/practical effects do look convincing for the budget as well as the gore. There’s plenty of blood, gunshots, wisecracks and zombies. Perhaps the only other thing that some gore hounds may not like is that there are not enough victims in the movie. Yes, there are people who die in the movie but a lot of the story revolves around the main characters mentioned prior. This may leave some viewers who enjoy the gore a little starved of their usual intake. The poster is also a little deceiving because nobody uses a chainsaw in this movie. But there are things that make up for that (kind of). It’s not abundant but there are a couple of special cast appearances throughout the movie. There’s one of Amber Heard as one of Columbus’ neighbors and an extended cameo of Bill Murray playing himself. It’s interesting though to hear Murray reference a few of his own works just to break the fourth wall.

    The last two components to look at are the cinematography and music. Michael Bonvillain was the director of photography for this project. Although there are areas that look like a lot of other zombie films, Bonvillain does get some good shots of landscape to give the setting some scope. Bonvillain has proven his talent before in Tom Berenger’s Sniper 3 (2004). Instead of bright colors here, he has a lot of gray colors to emphasize the lack of life, which also helps the colorful characters stand out. As for music, rock enthusiast David Sardy composed the film score. Prior to this, Sardy only had composed music for 21 (2008) but would later do bigger projects like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012). All in which Sardy uses a familiar sound of hard rock guitars to indicate his unique score signature. Here is no different; Sardy mixes aggressive guitar chords with organic orchestra compositions to create one interesting score. At times it sounds like it belongs to the horror genre with string stings, other times it’s comedy with banjo like cues and other times drama using lengthy chord progressions. It’s a weird score for a weird movie. Case in point.

    Other than not having enough victims on screen and some absurdly dumb humor (at times), this horror comedy is a fun watch and not just for one time. The characters are written with distinguished funny personalities, the violence is abundant, the camerawork is competent and the film score is wildly experimental but surprisingly appropriate.

    Points Earned –> 7:10

  • Nothing beats Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) when it comes to parodying zombie movies. Having set the standard for the sub-subgenre, it is a tough act for anyone to emulate the success of Wright’s film.

    Zombieland, a debut feature of Ruben Fleischer, comes close to providing something akin to a horror comedy set within (but not limited) to the confines of the spoof genre. It is an audience-orientated film which means it is made to entertain, and entertain it does.

    The creatively done opening titles sequence provides a glimpse of more narrative creativity to come. Zombieland is made to look like Survivor 101: How To Not Die In Zombieland. The narrator of the film, Jesse Eisenberg, who plays one of the four main human characters in the film, suggests numerous rules to follow (most of them devised from experience).

    Some of the more popular ones include “check your backseat” before you start driving, applying “double tap” to ensure confirmed zombie kill, and very importantly, the need for “cardio” to, well, outrun zombies. So please cut down on that popcorn.

    Those without prior knowledge to zombie films ought not to worry. Zombieland gives easy-to-follow visual examples of what could happen if you are attacked by a zombie. The results are usually not very pleasant. On the other hand, if you happen to be a zombie and are attacked by Woody Harrelson’s zombienator character, the results are also not very pleasant.

    Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone make up the quartet of zombie killers who spend most of their screen time frustrating the hell out of the male half by ‘stealing’ their weapons and vehicle. Despite its comedic nature, Zombieland can be suspenseful during moments when zombies may suddenly appear. This is due in part to Fleischer’s decent characterizations of the film’s characters; as the film progresses, we worry about their safety. Not many horror comedies can boast such sensitive treatment toward its characters.

    The climax of Zombieland set in an isolated theme park becomes the film’s most exhilarating action set-piece. Prior to this comes another surprise, an unexpected cameo by one of Hollywood’s most likable comedic personalities who plays himself.

    Zombieland is ninety minutes of fun. Just make sure you follow the rules and have Harrelson as your tour guide.

    GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)
    More reviews: http://www.filmnomenon2.blogspot.sg/

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