Zombieland (2009) Directed by Ruben Fleischer. With Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and Amber Heard.
Getting the best out of Zombieland requires a full surrender to its enthusiastic gaiety. Check any Walking Dead preconceptions at the door and tune yourself instead to an informed blend of George A. Romero’s ‘Of The Deads‘ with Edgar Wright’s ‘Shaun Of‘, and you ought to breeze through all 88-mins with a permanent semi-smile.
That said, I wouldn’t go as far as to conclude that ‘Z-Land’ is purely for the schooled flesh-eating aficionados. Like its UK counterpart, ‘Shaun‘, this is top-notch silliness played for laughs first, with gore and splatter for dessert. Like the zombies, the jokes come thick and fast. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson make an unlikely, but enjoyable screen duo, while Emma Stone brings a dry, streetwise charm to sweeten the broth. If there’s a weak link, it is Abigail Breslin’s tougher-than-the-guys 12yr-old character (big yawn), who serves as little more than filler and quickly becomes annoying.
The writing by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is razor-sharp. Despite the worn formula of the zombie sub-genre, there are enough clever ideas and humour injected into recognising the personality clashes within the group of characters to make it feel like a fresh(ish) take.
It goes without saying, but probably shouldn’t, that the make-up and special effects are a lot of fun, while the tight running-time assures things seldom sag. One last nod must go to a very special cameo. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, I won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s a genuine treat and another quirky ingredient to add to the experience. While not quite measuring up to Edgar Wright’s similarly themed zom-com effort, Zombieland comes a very, very close second best. That’s really saying something. 4/5