REVIEW: ‘Zombieland’ (2009)

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) nut up in the horror comedy, "Zombieland".
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) nut up in the horror comedy, "Zombieland".

Zombies, for whatever reason, are a Western Phenomenon. In this writer’s humble opinion, they represent a fear set unique to our Judeo-Christian based culture: they represent the loss of the Ultimate Certainty. In death, we are assured either reward, punishment, or rest. The concept of the zombie robs us of that, instead replacing it with the fear of continuing on as a mindless automaton, existing only to serve the basest needs of survival – all in all, not entirely unlike spending eternity in a corporate cubicle farm.

Since coming to prominence with 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead”, zombies have remained a barometer of American culture. From the mute, creeping fear of the late sixties to their modern aggressive, rage-filled counterparts, they have engendered a fear and despair that hides just beneath the face of our culture.

So, what makes “Zombieland” so gosh darned much fun?

We start out finding that humanity’s fifteen minutes are almost up. Survivors are few and far between and we are introduced to the realities of this world by our hero – identified, like most everyone in this film, not by a name, but simply by destination – Columbus (“Adventureland’s” Jesse Eisenberg).  He is trying to make his way from (of all places) Garland, Texas, to Columbus, Ohio, where his somewhat estranged parents are. As a Warcraft geek, existing in a zombie-filled world is a bit challenging for him. Luckily, along the way, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a man with a Ph. D. in Bad-Assery and a deep-seated need for Twinkies. Together, they begin their trek north and east… until they run into Wichita (“Ghost of Girlfriends Past’s” Emma Stone) and Little Rock (“Little Miss Sunshine’s” Abigail Breslin). Their path then turns left, or rather, west.
I love the smell of awesome in the morning.

“Zombieland” is a solid bit of entertainment that could have easily gone toe-to-toe with any number of the so-called “summer blockbusters” this year and sent them home crying to their mama. Director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick – with only a smattering of screen credits among them – are the unlikely trio that bring “Zombieland” together. Inspired by “Shaun of the Dead”, “Zombieland” is a welcome addition to the horror-comedy genre that not just matches its inspiration but exceeds it. “Zombieland” is a clever – and rare – alchemy of humor, action, horror, and heart. It’s one thing to mix the first three into a movie and get any number of good movies out of it, but “Zombieland” succeeds in giving us the first three plus characters that we get to know and like and care about along the way. That is in no small part to one, a great script and two, pitch-perfect performances from the cast. I would be hard-pressed to find a weak link there.

I can’t say it enough: “Zombieland” is just a great movie. It’s pretty rare these days that I walk out of a theater feeling good, feeling like I was entertained. When I came out of this screening, I immediately rang up a friend who asked me how it was. I said it was the best zombie movie to come out since 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead”. That’s some mighty heady company to be in as far as zombie movies go, but “Zombieland” isn’t just a great zombie movie, it’s a great movie, period.

I used to have a professor that said if you say something important, say it three times.

“Zombieland” is a great movie.

Joe Lopez
Dubbed, "TerrorScribe" by a former editor, Joe made the conversion to horror sometime in the mid-2000s. Little did he know he'd favored the genre all of his life. When not struggling with short stories, he provided genre film reviews for local entertainment sites and later genre sites who could suffer his cynical views.

It was that same cynicism - and some might say hubris - that lead him to have a brief flirtation with filmmaking. His first two efforts, "Annotated" and "Antes Que Seja Tarde (Before It's Too Late)" both premiered at a local H.P. Lovecraft film festival. A third short, "Survivor Girl" proved to be his undoing though plans are in the works to revived the cursed project.

Born and raised in Dallas, TX., Joe now resides in a small Texas town. Statistics say more dead bodies turn up in small towns that big cities... though he claims to have NOTHING to do with that.
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2 Replies to “REVIEW: ‘Zombieland’ (2009)”

  1. My top 5 favorite zombie films in no particular order are Dawn of the Dead (1978 original), Fulci’s Zombie, Revenge of the Loving Dead, Dead Snow, and Zombie Holocaust. As you can tell, I’m a fan of Italian horror. Love the classic 80s gut munchers. Day of the Dead (again, the original!) is one of my favorites too.

  2. Are you enjoying the play that the “zombie vs shark ” scene from Zombi 2 is getting from Microsoft? And how are you feeling about the news that Taurus wants to make yet another Day of the Dead remake?

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