Take the dry humour which Simon Pegg and Nick Frost excelled with in their zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead", then give it a coating of Hollywood and what you get is the hugely entertaining zombie fest "Zombieland". Blending dry wit with hugely funny, sometimes extravagant set pieces and a visual ness which is at times both shocking as well as funny and "Zombieland" is triumphant in delivering an enjoyable zombie comedy.
Following the mutation of the mad cow disease a virus has wiped out most of the worlds population leaving the few remaining humans to battle the zombies which resulted from the virus. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg - Adventureland) one of those few remaining survivors is making his way across America living by a set of rules he has devised to protect him from becoming a zombie meal when he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson - Seven Pounds) another survivor who likewise is heading across America. As they share a ride they not only have to battle zombies in any way possible but also a couple of con artists by the names of Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who ending up joining them.
At its heart "Zombieland" is a simple movie, devoid of any real depth which is not a criticism. It's in essence a road trip movie taking in the exploits of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Little Rock, named so after the places they come from, as they journey across a savage America battling the lumbering zombies on their travels. But the thing is whilst the storyline is simple, as are any rumblings of sub stories; it doesn't need to be any more because it's a movie about horror, comedy and delivering a level of visuality probably not expected for a movie which finds amusement from splattering the living dead.
Right from the outset director Ruben Fleischer sets the bench mark excitingly high with a series of opening scenes which deliver a sort of visual ferocity with the level of detail when it comes to the zombies, the no hold barred way of dispatching them yet also the humorous streak which incorporates dry wit with out right laughs. It's a brilliant blend allowing "Zombieland" to deliver a few shocks, some blood splattering gore yet always making you laugh. What is surprising is that despite not having a complex storyline it works brilliantly to draw all these elements together into a smooth flowing story which never ends up feeling like just a series of set pieces.
The blend of humour itself is quite brilliant with Jesse Eisenberg, not to be mistaken with Michael Cera, playing the slightly timid nerd who lives by a set of makeshift rules he's devised to survive the zombie ridden wastelands of America. A great contrast to Woody Harrelson who is an all out comic action hero who lives on the edge as he battles zombie's with relish. This means we get a lot of dry wit from Eisenberg to the more obvious humour from Harrelson and it works making every scene funny on many levels. Plus there are the delightful con artists in the form of the sexy Emma Stone as Wichita and the lovely Abigail Breslin as Little Rock. But the best laugh comes from Bill Murray who is barely in "Zombieland" but just delivers so much humour in the space of a few minutes as he spoofs himself as well as "Ghostbusters".
But then there is the horror of it all as well and it is no word of a lie that the way the zombies are handled, from their drooling faces to vomiting blood is so in your face that at times it feels like a proper horror movie rather than one which is focussing on being funny. It's at times quite shocking even a little scary but then delivers a laugh even when you don't expect it. Even when it comes to the dispatching of these Zombies the blend of horror and comedy continues with Harrison's Tallahassee relishing battling them by any means necessary with banjo's and car doors sticking clearly in your mind long after the movie has ended.
What this all boils down to is that "Zombieland" is truly a wonderful movie. It takes a simple storyline and makes it work through all of the humour and the horror of zombies. It delivers shock as well as comedy and although its aim is to be funny doesn't hold back from the gore aspect of the zombies and the way they are dispatched with. It does struggle occasionally to keep your focus but otherwise it is up there with "Shaun of the Dead" for being one of the best comedy horrors.
Tags: Zombie Movies