Bi-Polar Reviews: Zombieland I

Quick point before we start.

If someone comes up to you and wants to tell you what the best thing in Zombieland is. Knock them the fudge out! You do not want the best thing in Zombieland spoiled for you, trust me.

zombie

At some point over the last decade zombies joined ninjas, pirates, robots and monkeys in the pantheon of one time film and video-game fodder turned full time nerd fixations. Coupled with the revival and movie interest, this spawned a thriving industry of in-joke books and websites dedicated to collating every cliché of zombie survival for easy laughs. Following on from Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is next to have a good look at the sub-sub genre through a Wes Craven lens. The film follows four human survivors as they wander the requisite zombie landscape having post-modern discussions about zombie survival rules. There are many theories as to why zombies are so popular now, typically grounded in the ‘innate fascination with death’ hypothesis that needed a new home now that vampires have become exclusive objects of fetish for sexually frustrated novelists.

fail

I think I have a better take on the popularity. Put simply, I think we love Zombies because we hate each other. Just think of all the people everyday who annoy you, bother you, get in your way or just generally exist . We all occasionally feel like were alone among a hoard of hostel, human-shaped ghouls. And so we all have, or at least have the capacity to have that private dark fantasy of grabbing the nearest blunt object and fighting back against the armies of humanity.

But since most of us are sane enough to rely on fiction to satiate these urges, were always on the lookout for humans who are universally despised. So much so, that slaughtering them is fair game. The Brits are top of the list (I cannot see why, the reprehensible oaths!), closely followed by the Nazi’s. But both of those enemies limit you in terms of scope and setting.

zombieland

Zombies however, are perfect for any scenario. Zombies are just random people on the street under Robert Smith make up that identifies them as okay to kill. It is no accident that the greatest of all zombie movies takes place in a shopping centre.

Essentially the zombie genre is about individualist empowerment. The individual in Zombieland is one Jessie Eisenberg (see I was getting there), a self sufficient Über-nerd who never got on with humanity to begin with and is thus psychologically equipped for zombie survival. Jessie hooks up with Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. The plan is to head to a supposedly zombie-proof amusement park on the west coast. Along the way, friends are forged, sardonic jokes are made and zombie clichés discussed. The film hits its stride in the second half, with a surprising cameo (which shall not be spoiled) being a particular highlight. The cast has a relaxed chemistry and seem to be having fun. Of the performances it is Abigail Breslin who steals the show; her natural timing is impeccable. With Signs, Little Miss Sunshine and now Zombieland under her belt, Breslin is easily one of the most promising actresses to have graced our screens in quite some time.

breslin

If your guessing that everything comes down to a big climactic battle during which manhood is attained and the killing gets oh so inventive– blue peter badge for you! It may sound strange, but this is the kind of movie that I almost feel guilty about liking as much as I do. I should be sick to death of the zombie genre and survival jokes that were perfected by Wright and Pegg. But there is no denying that Zombieland works, like a bad joke that you can’t stop laughing at. Take for example, Woodie’s character, you already know that at some point in the last act he’s going to say some variation of.

“Just go…..I got this”

And march off on a suicide run of such immense improbability, it would make Douglas blush. Yet, when it happened I found myself to engrossed to care. Go Woody!

woody

ps. You still can’t jump though…

Dré

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