Thursday, October 22, 2009

Movie Review: Zombieland
Directed by Reuben Fleischer
Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

'tis the season, I suppose. October rolls around and horror flicks are the soup d'jour. And ever since Shawn of the Dead steamrolled genres a few years ago studios have tried to concoct the same recipe, blending humor and gore into an easily consumable dish.

Unfortunately, there are just too many elements of this film that don't pull their weight, demolishing any wit and charm that may lie in its path with the finesse of a blood-soaked chainsaw.

The story begins in a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world where Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is the only person left alive to do voice over. This in itself is tragic, but it does allow for Columbus to walk us through his list of rules for zombie survival (an enjoyable running gag that comes back repeatedly throughout the film) before running into Tallahassee (Harrelson) and his zombie-plowing Escalade. Shortly thereafter our heroes cross swords with a pair of sisters who are conning their way across the carcass-littered futurescape. Eventually our quartet gains each others' trust and they inexplicably head towards an amusement part in California, fueled by the promise of a zombie free area.

While some of the jokes are genuinely funny and well timed, most feel tired. A cameo by Bill Murray is probably the highlight of the film, a rare moment where the jokes seem to come effortlessly despite the script and direction.
On the horror-o-meter Zombieland scores a low 3.5 - 4. Even when the blood-drenched undead are sprinting towards the living there's little impetus for the audience to writhe and wiggle. Simply put, it doesn't seem as though director Fleischer has seen enough horror flicks to know what a good one should look like.

The grand finale takes place at the Pacific Playland amusement park, and it becomes clear that this was intended to be the great masterpiece of the film. The confrontation between the living and undead is at its height, but again, there isn't a fear that our heroes might not come out of this still pink and- well, alive. Even the undesireable Columbus scores the babe without hardly any effort.

For uneven script-writing, vague direction and for spinning its wheels once too often Zombieland fails to make the grade that would make it worth mentioning a year from now when you're in the mood for something scary.

Movie Grade: C

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