Spawned almost certainly by 28 Days Later in aught-two, and later cemented by Dawn of the Dead and especially Shaun of the Dead, both in 2004, the zombie craze saw a full-on resurrection in this apocalypse-obsessed decade of post-Y2K fallout.
Zombie fever has spread like the plague, as evidenced by the alarming amount of living dead drivel dominating the Hastings rental racks. Zombie Strippers! was even on FX recently. But worst of all, the Ubermensch of the Undead, George A. Romero himself, has been in a sad slump lately with the horrible Diary of the Dead and another installment in the Dead series on the way. But dread not zombie-philes, Zombieland is here to resuscitate the dying genre that is ironically being killed off, like so many humans hiding in a boarded up house, by an ever-growing hoard of shitty zombie flicks.
Zombieland is, in essence, America’s answer to the brilliant British horror/comedy Shaun of the Dead. Whereas the later has a distinctly British comedic tone, the former is proudly American (we can be witty too, you know). From the names of its main characters based on their hometowns (Columbus, Wichita, etc.), to the almost sadistic catharsis Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee takes in zombie killin’, to the chosen final destination of our characters, the metaphorical reclaiming of innocence that is the amusement park Pacific Playland, Zombieland stays true to the over-sized, over-violent and over-flashy American Way without the sacrifice of intelligence that usually goes along with it.
Take Zombieland’s leading man, Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, an antisocial intellectual whose very faults and idiosyncrasies make him the perfect survivor. His litany of rules for surviving work for him, but not so for Tallahassee, his reluctant and trigger-happy travel companion. As they scour the countryside for a Twinkie, they run into the cunning and savvy Wichita (Stone) and her preteen cohort (Abigail Breslin), and another reluctant grouping is formed.
Together, these four interesting and well-realized characters take to the road. Though the film is more comedy than horror, there are some intense scenes that give every joke an undercurrent of desperation, making everything just a little bit funnier. These characters realize they are in a zombie movie situation and act as many people today might were mad cow disease to somehow mutate into mad human disease.
All of this makes up for one of the funniest and most fun zombie movie experiences since SotD. There are laughs, then scares, then laughs again, and at roughly 90 minutes, the film never slows its pace or gets bogged down in tangents. Oh, and it has one of the best cameos of all time.