Bi-Polar Reviews: Zombieland II


Horror and comedy have closer ties than many would believe. Raimi’s video nasties understood that the two visceral genres could compliment each other perfectly if used correctly. Raimi’s infamous Evil Dead series received polarised responses from audiences because of the juxtaposition from two supposedly opposing genre forms. Some people just don’t know when to laugh or cry. One persons comedy is another persons Schindler. Looking at Shaun of the Dead, American Psycho and An American Werewolf in London you can begin to see why these films have developed such intense cult followings while at the same time completely alienating other audiences.


Zombieland attempts to cater for both sides of the fence, but in doing so fails to address either genre convincingly. If this is America’s answer to Shaun of the Dead (and I am not the first nor last to make this comparison) then it says more about quality control of two industries with vastly differing pay packets than successes within the sub-genre. Whereas the latter juxtaposed hilarious action with a grim, washed-out physical atmosphere for comedic effect, Zombieland’s camera work is too crisp, to shiny, it simply lacks the flavour that came with the zom-rom-com cult classic.


As everything that happens in the film follows the lead character’s rules for survival to the letter, there are no surprises. Columbus seems to know everything in advance. The writing gets caught up in its own intertextual analysis and self-reference that it doesnt begin to address the gaping flaws in the narrative. The zombies never come close to turning the tables on our heroes; thus killing any tension there might be. Even with the odd’s completely stacked against them, their lives are never really in any danger. The self-conscious humour and guitar laden soundtrack reiterate this further.


Moving onto a deserted highway strewn with the detritus of the old world that once existed, our main character Columbus runs into the deranged Tallahassee (the characters are named after the place they come from). Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee embodies what the movie is and hopes to be, masculine, coolly stylised and charming, but a bit on the slow side. In the advertising campaign for this movie, Woody is the selling point, portrayed as the post-modern cowboy Snake Plissken. On paper and synopsis’ this is quite funny and sounds like it could work well. On film however, it comes across a little too patronising. For example Tallahassee’s catch phrase “time to nut up or shut up,” is repeated over and over with patronising efficiency.


If i’ve said “patronising” more than once, it’s because it underpins every aspect of the film. If you didn’t feel that way, you may very well be this movie’s intended target audience in the new era of zombie fanboy. A teenager with a short attention span and a thirst for twinkie advertisements and ironic pop culture references. Keep the humour current and at least some will find it funny. The problem with that angle, is that a year down the line the film will offer little more than a snippet into the year previous.

Good Cameo though.

the end



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