I’m not one for that weird horror/comedy genre. I really did not enjoy Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. And there are very few exceptions to this rule for me (see: Dead Snow). But director Ruben Fleischer could really change my mind, in a big way. His feature-length directorial debut, Zombieland, is hilarious, and breathes new life into the zombie genre just when it needed the most (the vampires have been leading the game for years now).
The premise is like most zombie films: most of the world dies, survivors deal with zombies. The film is narrated by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg). He’s an introverted gamer with irritable bowel syndrome who chooses to spend his weekends at home playing World of War Craft and drinking Code Red Mountain Dew. His social dysfunctions and phobias actually prepared him quite well to survive in Zombieland. He has a set of rules that keep him safe, and in his comfort zone. He begins a trek to Columbus, Ohio, hoping his parents are still alive. On this trek he meets Tallahassee (Wood Harrelson), a rouch-around-the-edges cowboy, who’s favorite saying is ‘nut up or shut up,’ and is desperately looking for any surviving twinkies. Colombus and Tallahassee meet up with a sister team, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abagail Breslin) and the motley crew heads to California at the promise of a theme park that’s free of zombies (a plan that’s a blissfully ridiculous as the movie itself).
Eisenberg is the exact same character that he played in The Squid and the Whale, and Adventureland. And it really works, here. His peculiarities are endearing and funny. Stone, who desperately needed to do something to erase The House Bunny from our memories, really did her character proud and shows that she can play a multidimensional character. Breslin’s childlike enthusiasm that endeared us all in Little Miss Sunshine is starting to wear out its welcome, and the movie drags a bit when plot lines focus on her. Harrelson is the star of the show, however, hitting all the right notes and exhibiting a more than respectable comedic timing. Bill Murray graces the screen for a few, show stealing minutes, playing himself, while the four squat at his LA mansion.
All the actors were boosted by a great script written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick which generously allowed the characters to show soft sides, as well as hardasses that find joy in killing zombies in the most creative ways possible,. and mercifully avoiding abrasive one-liners that often bog down similar scripts. The gore starts at the very beginning of the beautifully shot opening credits and doesn’t stop until even after the closing credits (yes, stick around for a little extra something). Zombieland provides everything you could want in a film, romance, zombies, comedy, Bill Murray. Yes, this is a show you should watch.