While Zombies are not my personal supernatural monster — ghosts fill that particular niche in my tastes — I do have a fondness for the zombie movie. I’ve watched zombies movies as far back as Bela Lugosi‘s White Zombie to today’s film, Zombieland.
(I went with a friend and commented that this might have been the first Woody Harrelson film I had see. That turned out not to be true. A quick scan at IMDB showed I have seen two Woody Harrelson movies and one in the theater even. I watched EdTv on video and paid good money to see Natural Born Killers. EdTv was forgettable and Natural Born Killers I guess I repressed as I thought it was a god-awful film.)
Back to today’s movie.
Zombieland is that fairly new genre, the Zombie Comedy. The two best Zombie comedies before zombie land in my opinion would have to be Return Of The Living Dead, and Shaun Of The Dead. Zombieland is a fine and worthy addition with these films as good, funny, and tense zombie stories. There’s a lot of good humor in this movie and humor works best when it is unexpected, so my review is going to be as spoiler free as possible. This is a film to be enjoyed fresh and unspoiled.
The basic plot of Zombieland is the basic plot of zombie films since the Italian film Zombie 2 and George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead gave us the Zombie holocaust. A band of survivors must struggle to overcome internal strife and external threats to survive in a world overrun by zombies. It is a plot and form that when done well can speak to everything from consumerism to the basic need to trust each other. If done poorly it becomes nothing more than cheap effects and blood splatter. This movie was not done poorly.
The film is most unique in two dimensions. The first is visually. The director plays artfully with the frame and with titles to illustrate his film and his protagonist’s viewpoint. In this manner the film reminded me a bit of Stranger Than Fiction. (And that’s not a bad thing as that is a wonderful film.) The second is that the film truly understands and has fun with what my friends and I have referred to as Professional Victims. The protagonist has a series of rules for survival in Zombieland, the world filled with zombies, and his rules make sense and are the type too often ignored in less capable movies. They are also a wonderful source for the continuing humor in the piece.
You may have noticed I have not named characters. There is a reason for this. In this film the characters do not have traditional names. In an attempt to keep each other at arms length emotionally they referred to each other as the destination cities for each person. So the protagonist is Columbus, Woody Harrelson is Tallahassee and so on. This surprisingly works without distancing the audience from the film.
It is a zombie movie so it is violent, but if you can deal with violence then I heartily recommend this movie to you. I know I will be getting it once it comes out on blu-ray and who knows I may even see it again in the theaters. I enjoyed it that much.