Zombieland may sell itself as an adventure comedy horror but make no mistake, this is a film about family. We follow four people as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse as well as each other. I was 12 when this film was originally released, and what amazes me is that Zombieland is as funny now as it was then. That’s down to not just the script, but also its delivery from some superb actors.
The tone is set perfectly during the opening credits, which is a slow motion montage of zombie attacks set to Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. It introduces us to the kind of gore we can expect as well as the superb soundtrack. From here we gradually meet our main characters, who all have trust issue so go by place names rather than their own names. First up is Columbus, who is exactly the kind of awkward geek that Jesse Eisenberg always seems to portray. If you aren’t a fan of his acting then the chances are you won’t wholeheartedly enjoy this film. Fear not, for he is quickly joined by Tallahassee, portrayed in his gorgeous cockiness by Woody Harrelson. He’s a total badass whose one liners are eternally quotable and has a heart of gold buried deep, deep… deep down. His deadpan performance pushes this film from good to great. Along the way they are twice taken hostage by Wichita and her younger sister Little Rock who have been pulling scams most of their lives. The four of them decide to stick together and over the course of Zombieland go through some of the finest character development I think I’ve ever seen.
If you’re familiar with this film, you’re aware that there is a fifth character who has gone unmentioned. This is mainly because he doesn’t appear until late, isn’t here long and deserves a paragraph of his own. The film hypes him up for a solid 15 minutes to the point where first-time viewers may be expecting a fake out. The first time I watched it I went in blind, and it has become one of his most iconic roles. It’s an A-lister, it’s the big BM himself, it’s Bill frickin Murray. Here he plays a fictional version of himself and it may only be a short performance, but I think its one of the funniest of his entire career. I’ve grown up in an age where Bill Murray is considered a king and it’s like that for a reason. I’m really going to miss him when hes gone.
Something that Zombieland doesn’t get enough credit for is its cinematography. There are two scenes in particular where the camera shots, lighting and soundtrack collide perfectly. The first is a scene of the cast destroying a store full of nick-nacks set to The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. They are clearly having a blast and even through the screen their joy is infectious. The second comes during the climax where Tallahassee is single handedly taking down all the zombies to Strauss’ Vienna Blood Walt OP354. It was the first time that I really noticed just how stunning films can be, and is also probably one of the first times I ever questioned my sexuality. So congratulations i guess.
After 10 years we are finally receiving a sequel in Zombieland: Double Tap. It is one of the most highly requested sequels of all time, and re-watching Zombieland it isn’t difficult to see why. Personally, I watch it a couple of times a year, but I know people who watch it at least once a month. However much you end up watching it, you should definitely give it a shot.
Until Next Time…