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Zombieland (2009)

ZombielandReviewed by Nomad

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Amber Heard, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Directed by Ruben Fleischer


In our wide world of horror there has been no shortage of films about the terminally hungry undead. We’ve had tales of love and loss, comedies and those purporting to be, serious apocalyptic dramas, pseudo-political pieces and … whatever it is the Day of the Dead movies are. There is no end in sight so as Hollywood churns out their dead, it becomes less about original ideas and more about execution. Zombieland is most definitely not re-inventing the wheel, but I can say with no hesitation that it’s the funniest zombie tale since Shaun of the Dead.

Zombieland is the story of the broken survivors of an undead Armageddon. It is also the tale of a life not yet lived until everyone else has died. Lucky for us, very little time is spent on these deep, dramatic themes and emo sentimentality. In its place we get pure, unadulterated zombie killing bliss wrapped up in what can only be described as a parody of your basic coming of age teen comedy. Ohio (Eisenberg) is the prerequisite teen, so named for his desired destination. It’s Ohio who introduces us to the remnants of this decimated civilization, kicking things off with valuable tips to surviving any zombie encounter. Yes, those survival guide tips you are seeing in the commercials ARE in the movie. This proves an excellent way of showing glimpses of the world going to hell and includes one of the best title sequence montages since The Watchmen. I know I’m dishing out some seriously high praise, but it is well deserved. Trust me … or don’t. You know you are all going to see this yourselves anyway!

ZombielandOhio makes a beeline for his parent’s home when he runs into the mighty, mighty Tallahasse (Harrelson), who excels in zombie decimation while he scours the earth for his favorite snack cake. Destruction is his business, and to borrow a phrase from the Basterd Pitt, business is a’boomin! Soon the odd couple are joined by two more travelers (one of them being a hotty for Ohio), and the rest of the tale is elementary. Zombies attack and meet a squishy end, Ohio and his hotty flirt with love, hilarity ensues. As they make their way across the US, Tallahasse teaches the band that the world they knew is gone so it’s best to work out those frustrations any way possible, whether that be on abandoned cars, supermarkets, and of course, the cranium of a charging zombie. Some may still be staunch believers that fast zombies suck, but who cares? It’s not like we are getting prolonged chase scenes. When the Z boys come running, heads explode. What more do you need?

Comedic timing is near perfection in Zombieland, backing up the obvious fun of human-on-zombie violence with many a moment of gut busting hilarity. It can be as simple as an awkward or dorky conversation or as surprising as one particular scene in which the crew take refuge in a much unexpected location, providing the most insanely hysterical scene of the film. It’s one of those moments where people will say, “It was worth it just for that scene.” Woody Harrelson proves he’s still got the chops to leave us in stitches if he’s given the opportunity to shine while Jesse Eisenberg will most likely be described as “like that kid from Juno and Year One … only funny.” It’s boyish/geeky charm alongside the badass yet vulnerable killing machine who is just a bit dim. When the party is joined by home town bad girl Wichita and her sister Little Rock, we’ve got a dysfunctional family for the world’s end. You’ll love every second of it.

ZombielandSome films would be content to strike the perfect mix of comedy and above average zombie effects, but Zombieland adds another dimension with just the right amount of back story for each character. These scenes remind us of the tragedy of their situation, eliciting everything from a chuckle to an awww to a downright yank on your heart strings. The dramatic elements are never overly milked and strike just the right chords, complementing the scenes they piggyback like a snug-fitting puzzle piece.

It’s a joy to watch a film that seems to get everything right, has an audience howling with laughter to the point where you have to struggle to hear the lines that follow a gag, and STILL provides some extra gory eye candy for the horror fan who said, “You had me at Zombie.” The running undead look fantastic and are dispatched in a never-ending, ever-evolving innovative shopping list of carnage. You’ll applaud every crunch. Zombieland is a killer comedy with a vicious sense of humor. It’s the kind of movie where, halfway through, you’ll wish you already owned the DVD. Grab six horror-starved friends and meet me at the movies for opening night. It’s time we made a deserving film #1!

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5 out of 5

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Nomad

  • horror_heights

    Enough – no more praise! This movie ranks about the same as Fido (which is not a compliment, by the way). The deal breaker was the cameo of Bill Murray, which proved the filmmakers have no idea what they’re doing. I know that if I were making this film and wanted to earn the respect of true horror fans AND I had the opportunity to have a cameo of someone, I would at least choose someone RELATED to the zombie genre!! Why not Tom Savini or Tony Todd, for example? Not paying homage to the Zombie Gods properly is about the worst thing you can do, especially with all the crap horror films that are made. If you can’t at least get the cameo part right, then what the heck are you smoking? In Shawn of the Dead, for example, the mother’s name was Barbara, which eventually sets up paying homage to the famous line from Night of the Living Dead. Bill Murray has NOTHING TO DO with zombies – let alone HORROR, and since the movie really had nothing else going for it, missing the golden opportunity to have a proper cameo appearance could’ve scored some much-needed street credit points. Plus, Bill Murray wasn’t funny. He just read a few lines then died in a very obvious manner. This movie was not made for horror fans, but was instead dumbed down for the masses. 5 out of 5?!?! This movie gets a 2 at best.

  • PulpFriction

    Being a huge fan of George Romero an classics such as Land of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead – I was do looking forward to a “Natural Born Killers” take on the Zombie Genre. BUT, BUT, BUT this was a purely box office driven piece of crap. So freaking disappointing. It added little and raped the genre. Why couldn’t they add more to it and get it to work with the the likes of Woody? I mean is Woody at the bottom of the barrel that he has to act like a token horror victim, all plastic and “wooden”? You could have gotten any fool to play his role!
    Only pleasant surprize, or any surprize really was Bill Murray.
    If you going to make a good zombie movie – puh-lease call George next time and get a clue.

  • The Buz

    5 knives are you fucking kidding me?

    That is ridiculous. This movie was 3 knives, maybe 3 and half tops for the cameo bit. As others have stated this film had ZERO story. There was no pay off, nothing. It was a straight line script. They drew us from A, to B. Done. Fucking TV movies have more complex plots than this flick.

    That being said, it’s a fun time. I enjoyed most of the movie, but in all honesty, I just sort of forgot about it the moment I walked out of the theatre. In one ear and out the other.

    • LSD Zombie

      I’m going to defend Nomad’s rating. I had a fuckin’ blast with this movie. The pre-credits sequence was awesome! The cameo had me laughing my ass off and smiling from ear to ear. The amusement park massacre was the cherry on top of the bloody sundae.

      I actually enjoyed it a little bit more than Shaun of the Dead. I love Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, but they ain’t no Woody Harrelson!

      • The Buz

        Hey to each their own, but on just a technical level Shaun is the better made film. Better acting, script, direction, editing, cinematography. Much better than Zombieland. People like different things though, despite technical accomplishments.

        Me, I tend to go for the better made movie. But we all have our follies when it comes to film.

        I love Bad Boys 2.

        • Nomad

          hehehe..and there you have it.

          Simple words.

          I. Love. Bad. Boys. 2.

    • PelusaMG

      I absolutely agree with everything you say Buz… It had its moments, but definitely not a 5 knife movie by any means. Yeah, the cameo was fun, but not THAT great. Emma Stone looked hot (most of the time), Woody was great (most of the time), but I found the other two leads irritating. The opening scenes were hilarious, but too often the action was interspersed by slow moments and things which did not seem to drive the (predictable) plot on. The end act was fun at times (Woody’s ‘moment’ being the highlight), but played way too over the top for me to really get into it and enjoy it.

      It was an okay film, but definitely not a great film by any stretch… I actually enjoyed “Halloween 2″ more!

  • RingoJ

    That’s quite true, seeing as my opinion was, is, and shall always be the only one that matters.

  • Didn’t See It Coming

    Apparently, those of us that don’t swing from the movie’s nuts have sticks up our collective asses.

  • RingoJ

    Anyway, since my opinion is the only one that matters,the movie was good.

    Again, anyone who disagrees with me is wrong and an idiotdumbdumbhead.

  • Didn’t See It Coming

    Thankfully I’m not the only one who wasn’t impressed and saw the flaws in the film. Decent time waster, nothing more.

  • AriesofPitt

    I’m cool with running zombies. I like the faster pace. I think they are more horrifying. Just my opinion. However, if I ever see one driving that’s where I’ll draw the line. And don’t even get me started if they then start texting while driving!!

  • Sirand

    It’s a fun film but 5 knives is really pushing it. Jesse Eisenberg feels like he’s just playing Michael Cera…and his narration isn’t all that funny (plus it takes up 2/3rds of the entire film…and people bitched about Diary). Woody rocks it and there are some moments of genius, but it’s nowhere in the same league as Shaun of the Dead.

    • Gus Bjork

      Pretty much agreed although at least his narration didn’t sound like someone waking up from a Tylenol coma. The problem I had was there was never a threatening feel to it. Even though it’s a comedy I thought building more tension would have helped. Plus the best zombie action was all front loaded in the opening credit sequence (which rocked). I recommend seeing it though.

  • bludgeoner

    Who gives a fuck if they shamble or run!? If they look good, pack a nasty bite and are taken out in an entertaining and brutal fashion – I wanna see it. It’s a fucking zombie film – I think this “running vs. shambling” thing is going too far. Yeah, they’re dead, they wouldn’t be able to run – they also wouldn’t be able to fucking move!

    “This is ridiculous! Excuse me.” – John Voight – Deliverance.

    • Didn’t See It Coming

      Dude. You can’t come in here with your logic. We’re talking about fictional creatures that have RULES damn it!

  • Floydian Trip

    And that’s exactely it. You’re in a grocery store stocking up on supplies. You see a zombie across the street shambling in your direction. No problem right so you continue doing what you’re doing. A couple minutes later you glance out the window again and now there’s 5 of them. Still easily outrunnable or knocked away for escape so you move on to medical supplies. You fill up on Cortizone Cream cause God knows it’s a necessity in a zombie apocalypse and hear the front window being smashed in and now there’s 20 of them with more coming up behind them. The back door is full of them too so now what the fuck do you do? Panic. Fast moving zombies never seem to travel in giant hordes like that because if they did there wouldn’t even be time to think of how you’d escape. You’d be dinner before you know what hit you.

  • Floydian Trip

    Well both Shaun of the Dead and An American Werewolf in London (I now own both on Blu-ray! Yeah!) had plenty of tension and hysterics to satisfy both horror fans and comedy fans alike. A comedy/action/horror flick is more like a spoof. They should have made it a non-zombie movie and used the infected plot like 28 Days Later.

    • The Woman In Black

      I don’t remember a lot of tension in Shaun — gore and horror elements, yes, but … maybe I need to pop in our new Blu-ray and watch again.

      But as for the slow vs. fast debate, in a lot of ways the thought of a zombie chasing me who actually has a chance of catching me is a lot scarier than one that’s shambling toward me with no possibility that I won’t be able to escape. But if a horde of slow ones was surrounding me, that could be another story.

    • Didn’t See It Coming

      Why? Because YOU say so? Where do you get this ridiculous sense of entitlement you have? They’re zombies. They run. Running zombies are here to stay. Deal with it.

  • Floydian Trip

    Where do you want to start with vampires? Or is it just Dracula in particular? Shape-shifting is a must.

  • Floydian Trip

    Running zombies = action movie devoid of any tension whatsoever. I’ll wait and watch it for free since Woody is the only thing that interests me about it. It might as well be an adaptation of Dead Rising. That’s what it looks like to me.

    • The Woman In Black

      Considering it’s a comedy at its heart, I’m not expecting much tension or suspense so running zombies or not, I’m there opening day!

      • G.D.

        Exactly. It’s a comedy. If you’re expecting a horror movie then it’s your own damn fault. WHAT exactly makes you think it’s a horror movie? Watch the trailer. Read the TITLE. What makes it sound like a horror movie?

  • rcanipe

    “Lucky for us, very little time is spent on these deep, dramatic themes and emo sentimentality”

    This should be the warning that the movie will be full of action, killing, gore, but NO STORY!

    It’s probably another of Hollywood’s FIO films.

    FIO= For Idiots Only.

    • Ultimo Franco

      I just saw it. You’re dead right about the story. There is none. It’s not much more than a collection of visual gags strung together with an endless voice over.

      The two girls are given absolutely nothing to do. They’re just “the girls.” They’re total blanks. Jesse whatshisname plays, note for note, the same stereotypical awkward-virgin-guy he’s played in too many other movies. I couldn’t see any real difference between this character and the one he just played in Adventureland. They’re the same exact guy, with a slightly different family backstory. Change a few lines of dialog and it could practically be a sequel they’re so identical. Hell, it’s virtually the same exact character he played in The Squid and The Whale, and Roger Dodger before that. I’ve seen him play this same guy four times now, and that’s not even counting the number of times Michael Cera’s played it. I’m kinda done with the whole quirky-virginal-sensitive-guy for awhile. Thank God for Woody Harrelson. He brings a unique energy to his role, which goes a long way.

      There’s a genius bit of surprise stunt-casting midway through, but it’s not enough. I got really bored. There’s just so little in the way of story. Nothing really happens. The characters go from one place to another. Along the way they kill zombies. The end. Now, I’m not asking for a complex, labyrinthine plot, but I need a bit more than just that. Something would be nice. Anything.

      But people seem to like it, so what the fuck do I know?

  • Gus Bjork

    I’m getting a little burned out by zombies but the trailers look good and I like Woody Harrelson.

  • doubleh55

    I prefer running zombies because it scares me more than shambling zombies. But it really just depends on what movie you’re making. The Dawn of the Dead remake with shambling zombies would have been a completely different movie and against what the filmmakers attempted to do. Make sense?

    • Didn’t See It Coming

      It’s a lost cause. It really is. I prefer shambling zombies myself, because I like that old school feel of it. But I will NEVER fault a film because zombies run because it’s ENTIRELY up to the storyteller. As long as the movie is good, I don’t care if Zombies do a fucking triathlon. I’m rational that way.

  • Floydian Trip

    And also Zombis are real a fact you keep missing and while they’re not the undead, flesh eating variety guess what? They don’t run either.

    • Didn’t See It Coming

      Hey look at that! This movie has undead, flesh eating zombies in it and guess what? They’re not real.

      • Nomad

        Next, I’d like us to debate Draculas.

  • Floydian Trip

    If you know anything about how fast a corpse deteriorates, you’d know zombies couldn’t run. A shamble is the best they could do. If Micheal Crichton wrote and directed a zombie movie you better believe they’d be shambling.

    • Uncle Creepy

      Agreed completely.

    • Didn’t See It Coming

      Including him because he’s dead. But that being said, zombies wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. Not lift, grab, attack, bite or any of the other things you find acceptable. Yet these get a pass but running doesn’t. You need to be studied by a team of scientists. Not one, a whole team. With note pads so they could write down every thing you say and then say “Hmm”.

      • Gus Bjork

        Okay the bickering thing is old but goddamn it that made me laugh.

        • Mr. Gray

          Yep, that one got me, too.

    • thedarkestshadow

      I have to say you must be an idiot. Yes a real corpse deteriorates fast. Last time I checked they also don’t move and try to eat you either. Trying to use logic like that makes you sound like a dumbass. How do you know that whatever reanimated them stops them from deteriorating fast? It’s a fictional movie about fictional monsters.

      Whoever says this movie doesn’t have a story obviously didn’t watch it. Did it have a deep involved story? no. But it does have a plot and does have character backgrounds, motives for what they are doing, etc. This isn’t Citizen Kane here. Some of you really need to go to a proctologist and get that stick removed from your asses.

  • Floydian Trip

    Zombies shouldn’t run.

    • Nomad

      It’s practically part of the joke in this movie.

    • Didn’t See It Coming

      Sure they should. Zombies aren’t real. A fact you keep missing.

  • Cinemajedi

    I get comedy, zombies AND Woody Harrelson In a good role? Yes please!

  • Didn’t See It Coming

    Well considering that I hated Gamer, I guess things are back to normal. Which sucks, because once again, we have a movie I’m really looking forward to with Nomad’s stamp of approval. If I wasn’t addicted to all things walking dead, I would probably skip it based on this review.

    • Uncle Creepy

      Oh, stop being a loony! LOL

      • Dr Malachi Constant

        That’s like asking shit not to stink, isn’t it?

        • RingoJ

          Profound.

          Anyway, since my opinion is the only one that matters,the movie was good.

          Again, anyone who disagrees with me is wrong and an idiotdumbdumbhead.

    • Nomad

      Yea but anyone who liked the Crank movies was bound to like Gamer..which I did. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

      • Didn’t See It Coming

        Yeah and Crank was horrible, so there you go.

  • goblin310

    My excitement for this movie just got cranked up to 11!