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USA 2009
Directed by
Ruben Fleischer
88 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
3.5 stars


Synopsis: An occasionally gross but more frequently endearing comic road trip by an obsessive compulsive, a redneck, and two con-artist sisters across zombie-infested USA.

Zombieland is an America infested by a plague that turns people into zombies. Four misfits travel across a surreal and abandoned landscape in search of trust and dreams, killing a lot of zombies along the way. And whilst not for the faint-hearted, there’s probably enough novelty and sufficient charm to get you past the gore.

With a novel mix of archetypes you can almost imagine the producer’s initial pitch. Yes, it’s almost but not quite the dweeb from Juno (2017), the youngster from Little Miss Sunshine, the gun-slinger from Natural Born Killers (1994) the femme fatale from that femme fatale movie, and the zombie cast from most of the genre faves from Dawn (1978) to Shaun Of The Dead (2004).

The narrative is driven by geekiness with guns in second place. Jesse Eisenberg plays socially awkward anti-hero Columbus who sets the rules by which survival is earned. As the film’s frenetic action crashes into slow-motion for pivotal scenes, set alternately to Metallica or classical music, these rules appear written across the set before being smashed aside by oncoming zombies. Rule One is cardio, as fitness always helps in evasion. Rule Two is double tap, always shoot twice. Rule Three is wear seatbelts. Rule Four is beware of bathrooms, and so on.

The rules are cute, but the special effects and cinematography provide for a novel marriage between words and action that works surprisingly well. The director certainly has a visual flair for the unexpected. Who would have thought that a slow-motion zombie stripper on a rampage would be more terrifying than the hyped-up crack-addict zombies from 28 Days Later (2002) or I Am Legend (2007)?

Columbus is slowly brought out of his shell by confectionary-obsessed gunsmith Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), precocious youngster Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and bewitching Wichita (Emma Stone). As Columbus puts it, Tallahassee is in the arse-kicking business and business is good. Despite some hiccups in pacing and humour, these four struggle through a variety of trust issues to become a likeable team. It’s not quite as funny, and quite a bit more gory, than I hoped for but beggars can’t be choosers in Zombieland.




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