We all know that this Halloween will not look like other Halloweens from years past. And yet, the month of October waits for us all the same. It is about time we put the spirit of Halloween back into that abandoned department store that we call the year of 2020. So to celebrate, we at Full Circle Cinema put together a curated, month-long series called Screen Screams. This time, we will be covering all things zombies. For this review, we look at the first installment of the Zombieland saga that debuted in 2009.
There are plenty of horror-comedy zombie films, Shaun of the Dead, Cabin in the Woods, Warm Bodies, Cooties, Slither. They are all great movies, but they all fail in comparison to Zombieland, a peak horror-comedy film. There’s no confusion, the film never goes away from its course, and it gives the audience everything you could ever need in a horror-comedy film about the zombie apocalypse.
Zombieland follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) as he navigates what is essentially the end of the world. He creates a set of rules for himself in order to survive. Along his survival journey, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) a strong-armed insane zombie killer that’s searching the Earth for the last Twinkie. The two men eventually run into Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), two sisters who are great con-artists. The group goes on a crazy ride as they head towards a theme park.
There’s a few twists and turns that make this film into a fun ride. Screenwriters Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick definitely thought this idea through thoroughly when they pinned it. The only stakes are being turned into a zombie. There’s no race for a cure or trying to save anybody. All we have is pure zombie killing and fun action. Director Ruben Fleischer and cinematographer Michael Bonvillain put together a lot of great slow-motion shots and some really great zombie kills. This film came during the uprising of the zombie mania, and it complimented all of the seriously intense zombie shows and movies by doing the same thing but with humor. The scenes are still intense, but the tone is very different.
The acting in this film fits the tone perfectly. The cast has some of the best onscreen chemistry in that decade. Harrelson and Eisenberg definitely worked well together. The overly masculine male and the fragile nerd that steps when necessary worked out well for the two. Not to mention Eisenberg and Stone’s chemistry was top tier in the romantic element we see the characters in. Breslin works well with everybody as well, but especially Stone and Harrelson. The sister dynamic and the father/daughter relationship with Harrelson in the film work well, especially considering the circumstances.
Overall, this is the top dog in horror-comedy. Although there are many films like it, none come close to reaching perfection as this. The cast is unique, and the story is unique and fun. The world-building the film does makes it that much more entertaining. They set up a world without rules, and that would eventually have extremely high stakes. You can imagine yourself here and just enjoy the hilarious ride that is Zombieland. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Zombieland is available on VOD and streaming on Peacock.