One of my favorite horror films in recent years was the zombie horror/comedy “Shaun of the Dead”, which is undeniably a British film. Ever since “Shaun of the Dead” I have been waiting for Hollywood to do this type of film their way and with Ruben Fleischer’s “Zombieland”, I finally get my wish.
“Zombieland” is the story of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and his journey home after the world has gone to hell and the streets are filled with zombies. Columbus has a set of rules that he abides by to stay alive but once he runs into the kooky Twinkie hunting Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) everything seems to go to wrong for the neurotic Columbus. Soon enough, Tallahassee and Columbus find themselves paired with the devious pair of sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), heading towards an amusement park in California.
Plenty of mishaps happen along the way and those mishaps offer plenty of laughs but the real humor lies within the dialog and the deliveries of Eisenberg and Harrelson. Both actors play off each other pushing their characters opposite characteristics to the extreme for maximum comedic potential. Eisenberg is the perfect foil for Harrelson’s over-the-top performance and they both create plenty of laughs throughout the course of the film. The biggest laughs though may actually come in the form of a second act cameo that I will not spoil for you here but be assured that the cameo offers some of the best laughs of this year since “The Hangover”.
The film could have taken the easy route and just go for straight slapstick humor but it does not. “Zombieland” is not all sight gags and funny one-liners, the film has an emotionally touching undercurrent that guides the characters towards their ultimate goal. There is some down and dirty character development in “Zombieland” and while they never become deep characters, they all are real characters that evolve over the course of the film.
The film does have its flaws though. For a film that runs a scant 81 minutes there are some slow points and pacing may be an issue for some. It is a shame because when the film is firing on all cylinders it is really good. The other issue I had with it was the fact that despite its title, “Zombieland” is a lot of the times devoid of zombies which I just found quite odd.
However you want to look at it though it is rare enough that we get a very good horror or comedy film, let alone a very good horror/comedy and “Zombieland” meets all the specifications. It is everything one would want in this type of movie and maybe even a bit more.
4 out of 5