Zombieland - Blu-ray Review

'Fleischer inserts a variety of extremely funny touches that make the film and its characters endearing archetypes rather than predictable and generic character models'

Ruben Fleischer has discussed Zombieland in terms of it being primarily a comedy film, rather than the horror its title suggests. He’s right. Although the film pays homage to classic zombie genre flicks, this is a comedy set in a recognisable horror universe. Having said that, Zombieland also inhabits (or if not inhabits, is at least renting on a long-term basis) that awkward gap that opens up whenever anyone tries to push something out that fits uncomfortably in between defined genres. The pursuit of this multi-genre is commendable but also, often sadly flawed, as is the case here, with a film that’s neither funny enough nor horrific enough to justify being a fantastic example of either lineage.

Zombieland’s setup is perfect in its simple mesh of both genres. The horror comes in the form of the obvious plague outbreak (briefly alluded to being due to mad cow disease) which has turned the population of the U.S into raving lunatics, introduced to us in a great title montage and with more in common with Danny Boyle speed and anger than Romero shuffling dread. The comedy comes from the people who have survived the onslaught. Named after where they are from to prevent anyone getting too attached (lest they die a grizzly death) they read as a who’s who of comedy stereotypes; Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a typical high school whipping boy who has survived via a series of rules to stay safe, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is a tough-nut zombie hunter with a good line in pithy comments and zombie dispatch methods, Wichita (Emma Stone) is the focus of Columbus' romantic attention but is infinitely smarter and more attractive whilst Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) is her younger sister – a little girl with a wise old head.

Together as they make their way across Zombieland towards an obscure pleasure park, Fleischer inserts a variety of extremely funny touches that make the film and its characters endearing archetypes rather than predictable and generic character models. Columbus' rules for example, are literally shown on screen, in the environment, occasionally causing a zombie to run in to them or being broken up by a flying woman when the rule reads ‘always wear your seat belt’. Wichita and Little Rock's smarts are the source of much humour too and they frequently get the better of the male characters, again endearing Harrelson’s tough nut to us even more by showing his obvious reluctantly soft side. Despite the stereotypes, the character drama and comedy is Zombieland’s strongest point and whilst laughing at them, I also cared whether they lived or died.

But Fleischer doesn’t seem to pull off enough of anything to make the film notably great. Take the rules for example. They’re genuinely funny when they’re around but for a good thirty minutes towards the end (remembering the entire film is only eighty-eight minutes) they just disappear without warning. It’s an apt metaphor for the rest of the film. The comedy is just sometimes absent and in scenes which seem destined for a Tallahassee one-liner we never receive the payoff.

This too often results in it being left to the horror elements to entertain us and again, while they’re at least functional, they don’t reach new genre heights. Towards the end of the film, our characters must face the zombie hordes in the theme park. There are multiple options here to where Fleischer could take us but guess what he chooses? That’s right, the house of horrors – didn’t see that one coming!

It’s not that Zombieland is a bad film, it’s charming and endearing in all the right ways, but nor is it a great one, and it eventually starts to feel like a missed opportunity. The extremely short run time hints at a tiny budget and the star cameo (whilst funny) backs this up. As such, Fleischer has done brilliantly with so little, but could have done with just a few million more to ensure both elements were properly developed throughout.

Look further...

'it’s fitting that Zombieland ends up in an amusement park, because it basically is one. You get your money’s worth' The Daily Telegraph (Tim Robey), 3/5


  1. i actually thougth this was a pretty bad film. though i though woody was good in it. but, yeah, definitely not a good movie

  2. Hmm... interesting. I didn't think it was great but definitely entertaining.