Netflix UK film review: Zombieland
Ivan Radford | On 23, Jul 2017
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Watch Zombieland online int he UK: Netflix UK / MUBI UK / iTunes / Amazon Instant Video / TalkTalk TV Store / Google Play
“The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me.” Such is the life of the nerdy, pathetic Columbus (Eisenberg), a loner who avoided humans even before the zombie plague wiped out most of the United States. Now, surviving on his own paranoid instincts (Rule #2: Beware of Bathrooms), he’s just undead fodder waiting to be undeaded.
Then, along comes Tallahassee (Harrelson), a fellow survivor and complete psycho. Armed with guns, gardening shears and a banjo, he’s Rambo’s redneck cousin – a trigger-happy hero in a land of the dead. As the duo face each other down with shotguns apiece, theirs is an edgy relationship, one which ultimately fuels the whole road trip across the country. The goal? Pacific Playland, an amusement park rumoured to be a zombie-free zone.
Taking them there are Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin), two grifter sisters with little trust and lots of hair products. Make no mistake: they wield weapons as well as the next warrior. Bantering through the zombie-butchering, the pseudo-family hold off the hordes before finally arriving at their destination. Of course, it’s all lies: Pacific Playland is no safer than any other infested city. But it does have flashing lights, pretty music and lots of large metal objects. Nut up and shut up – welcome to Zombieland.
This is a place where nothing gets taken seriously. Pianos fall on people’s heads, bullets blow out brains; it’s a riotous orgy of full-on gory mayhem. Tongue firmly in rotted cheek, it’s a fun take on an overly familiar genre. The American Shaun of the Dead? Luckily not – director Ruben Fleischer is too smart for that one. Gleefully switching to slow-mo every now and then, here we get running zombies, chaotic action and an unabashed love of the red stuff. Steering its own course clear of Shaun’s style, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script takes time out to award Zombie Kill of the Week, before bringing in Eisenberg’s neurotic narrator.
Voicing over his OCD observations while Tallahassee trashes stores for Twinkies, Zombieland crafts characters that are just crazy enough to believe in – and that’s largely down to Woody Harrelson’s ability to play over-the-top without becoming unbelievable. You don’t really care that much about them (well, maybe a little) and the you-got-a-friend moral is pretty much meaningless, but this is a film that is far more focussed on having fun. And fun is very much had. Especially when a major Hollywood legend turns up and plays himself in a hilarious cameo (if you haven’t heard about it, trust us: resist the urge to Google it). The main cast’s comedy chops are on full display here, but that bit-part takes the biscuit. It’s a genius turn in an already witty movie. Hannah Montana, Willie Nelson, Twinkies – it’s the little touches that make this comedy more than it should be. A buddy movie with zombies? This is laugh-out-loud stuff.
Zombieland is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. It’s also on MUBI, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.