The Horror and Hilarity: Andy Burns On Zombieland

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Rule #45: Do not spoil Zombieland for any Biff Bam Pop readers.

We’re weeks away from Halloween, which of course means there’s a new zombie movie in theatres waiting for us die-hard, blood-thirsty lovers of the undead to shell out our dough and sit through. Us zombie fans sometimes have it rough. For every new classic Shaun Of The Dead, there’s an offensively awful experience like Night Of The Living Dead 3D (someone burn the negative). For every innovative take on the genre like Diary Of The Dead, there’s a crappy remake like Day Of The Dead. You can understand then why I had some trepidation walking into the latest zombie offering, tantalizingly titled Zombieland.

Let me tell you, what a relief! The latest cinematic zombie opus, written by Emmy winners Rhett Resse and Paul Wernick and directed by Ruben Fleisher, is as good a film as any fan of the genre could ask for. It doesn’t even matter that the subject matter is more often than not played for laughs. Zombieland is full of appealing characters, a strong story, and perhaps best of all for this fan, it doesn’t start at the beginning.

Zombieland happens post zombie apocalypse, where scant amounts of humans are just trying to survive their situation. We meet four of them – Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg); Tallahasee (a never better Woody Harrelson); Wichita (Emma Stone); and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) – and watch as they navigate their situation and the world that they’re no faced with, often with hilarious results. Rather than watching the characters figure out the rules of Zombieland, before the film even starts they’re already well aware of them and even helpfully provide the basic means of survival to viewers. None of the characters are stupid; they’re quite intelligent, and the film treats the audience with the same level of intelligence. If only more horror movies could be that way.

Zombieland proves that genre films need not cater to the lowest common denominator. It stands firmly beside Shaun Of The Dead as the rare horror-comedy that perfectly executes the combination. Truthfully, Zombieland wound up exceeding every expectation I had of it. It was thoroughly engaging throughout its 81 minutes and is a must see if you’ve even remotely enjoyed a zombie film.

(And for the record, I haven’t even mentioned the brilliant surprise that comes around the middle of Zombieland. And I won’t. Do yourself a favour and avoid spoilers at all costs.)

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