Vampires and the undead are increasingly taking over most forms of creative media and with farces in style since Spinal Tap, it would make perfect sense to combine them into a beautiful blend of comedy and horror wouldn’t it? That would be true if you were discussing Shaun of the Dead but sadly Zombieland never fully succeeds on either account.
Set in a post apocalyptic America, the writers are never able to fully commit to whether it is a national or global crisis when a new virus has begun to transform everyone into the shambling undead with a craving for live flesh. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), the pseudo-narrator, is heading from his college dorm in Austin, Texas to Columbus, Ohio to see if his parents (of whom he goes to great pains to point out he has no relationship with) have survived. His shut-in tendencies and big bag of neurosis allow for a set of rules including ‘limber up’ and ‘never be a hero’, to be credited with keeping him alive thus far but that’s not saying much considering the small distance he has actually travelled. After losing his car, he joins forces with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a man running from a convenient familial loss but needs only a baked good to recover and later the emotionally-indifferent Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) who are on their way to an amusement park outside Hollywood to relive their childhood momentarily.
Despite every effort to make the film into something with any degree of nuance, the piece essentially boils down to a shoot ’em up with characters who don’t look like they should be in such a role (other than Harrelson who perhaps seems too comfortable with the violence required of him). It aims to be unadulterated violence at its best but just like the comedic element which never gains significant momentum (despite a guest appearance by Bill Murray), it never gets entirely off the ground. Both are only further hindered by romantic and sentimental subplots that feel so rushed at times that saccharin is how best to describe their delivery.
Overall, the movie is enjoyable if nothing much is expected of it, but because of the remit it tries to cover, it inevitably ends up doing itself a disservice.