Zombies have been a staple of horror movies for decades, and rightly so. The walking dead repulse as well as terrify. They can’t be reasoned with, propelled as they are by a savage hunger that is never satisfied. They’ve become more popular recently, with a new wave of movies and video games, though not all of the current crop of zombie flicks concentrate on humanity’s desperate fight for survival against these unrelenting monsters.
Zombieland, released in 2009, is one such movie. Yes, the zombie threat is still there, but this movie focuses on more than just blind fear and survival instincts. It’s set after the zombie apocalypse has devastated the United States, and it tells the story of a small group of humans in this ‘country of the dead.’
The main character, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), starts the movie in Texas. He’s managed to survive by following his own set of rules for surviving in this zombie-dominated land. He wants to return home to his parents in Ohio. Along the way, he teams up Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a cynical loner who enjoys smashing zombies as he searches for the last Twinkie. The two of them travel together, eventually meeting up with two girls, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who want to visit an amusement park. As they battle the zombies, and each other, they come to realize what family means in this violent new world.
A strong thread of dark humor runs through Zombieland, though it doesn’t play for laughs. Instead, it underscores the dire situation, serving as a way to relieve what could have been an overpoweringly dark film. The main cast put in solid performances, but Tallahassee steals the show. The relationship between Tallahassee and Columbus is just snarky enough to be believable. Wichita and Little Rock are hard-bitten survivors who will do whatever it takes, and step over whoever they need to, to reach their destination. All the characters grow and change during their journey, and that makes the film worth watching.
Fans of zombie flicks who are looking for a different take on the famed movie monster, or people who enjoy darker comedy, should visit Zombieland. It’s worth the trip.