Certain films walk a fine line between Horror and Comedy. A great example of this new hybrid of work is Edgar Wright's Shawn of the Dead, released in 2004. The film was basically a pun on Romero's Living Dead Chronicles and made light of the walking dead. Over the last five years, there have been many failed attempts in this particular horror/comedy arena, until now. So lets call Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland a "Zom-edy". Let's also call it one of the top 5 films of 2009.
This post- apocalyptic splatter fest opens with the introduction of leading male character, a cowardly introvert nerd named Columbus (Jessie Eisenberg, Adventureland). His real name isn't Columbus -- each character is named after the city they hail from. Columbus narrates a majority of the film and explains through action, his hand-written rules of survival. We begin to follow his every day pangs and toils in fighting off the relentless zombie horde. On his way to Columbus, Ohio, in the hopes of finding his parents alive, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, No Country for Old Men), a seasoned hillbilly zombie slayer who offers him a lift. Harrelson is on his own mission--to find the last Twinkie on the planet before it hits it's expiration date. They eventually meet up with a pair of female con artists named Wichita (Emma Stone, Superbad) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine), who use their brains and beauty to survive. Reluctant to travel alone, the foursome decide to go against what each believe to be the key to survival--don't trust anyone. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
***SPOILER ALERT*** What separates this film from the pack is the cameo from Bill Murray playing himself. Camouflaged in zombie make-up, Murray still resides in his California mansion and functions comfortably among the zombies. The ten minute appearance is absolutely hysterical and can hang with the likes of Superbad and the Hangover. This scene by itself is worth the rental, it's golden.
The film wins on many different levels. First, the numerous ways Harrelson disposes of zombies is worth a look (his creative use of guns to garden tools is a treat). Next, the film doesn't get too political on why our planet is 99.9% undead-- we get a quick mention that a mutated virus had stemmed from mad cow disease and caused earth th become a league of undead nations. Finally, the healthy serving of gore does not smother the heart-felt story of 'boy meets girl' (in a particularly strange and original setting) as we follow their adventures. The old adage holds true in Zombieland, the journey is far better than the destination. Pick this one up at your local Blockbuster or pop it in your Netflix queue, you will not be disappointed.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Ghouls