Thursday, October 8, 2009

The RETURN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR: #8 Zombieland

Oh Zombieland. Somehow this sharp little diamond made it through gauntlet of crap which is studio horror and delivered unto us a funny, gory, great little horror comedy. Now let’s take a moment here, because I do feel that the film is in danger of being overhyped. I went into it expecting an American Shaun Of The Dead, and I was a little let down. If you feel yourself souring towards Zombieland, just keep repeating to yourself, “It’s a miracle this thing exists, It’s a miracle this thing exists.”

The genius of Shaun was how sneaky it was. Portraying itself as an innocent comedy, getting you invested in the characters, so when the ball DID drop and it became full blown horror you where so invested in what was happening you barely noticed. It’s a great piece of sleight of hand one I’m not sure will ever be matched. Zombieland doesn’t quite go that far, mostly because it doesn’t have the giant brass balls Shaun did. But it does follow a similar template a movie you take as a joke until you suddenly realize you actually give a fuck.

In the words of Sean Connery most Zombie movies “Leave just as it was getting interesting” with civilizations total and utter collapse. Zombieland follows those who’ve survived up to that point, and watches what they do with what’s left over (for a much more serious take on a similar idea I heartily recommend Rob Kirkman’s Amazing "Walking Dead" you’ll be hooked). Following four drifters, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg star of Adventureland, AKA “The thinking man’s Michael Cera), Tallahassee played with deranged cheer by a perfect Woody Harrellson for a man whose just having a ball in the new world order, and the pair of con women, Little Rock and Witchita. All four are well drawn characters, making this the rare modern horror movie where you DON’T want people to be killed.

Just because this is a mainstream horror movie doesn’t mean it skimps on the grue and bad taste. The opening credits set to For Whom The Bell Tolls (Best use of Metallica in a movie? Name me one better.) start things off with a cavalcade of gruesomely funny, incredibly unPC death, that had my ribs hurting before the flick even started. And the famed cameo in the middle of the film (which I won’t spoil on the off chance you haven’t heard it yet) really does live up to the hype. All I’ll say is it’s been too long since we’ve gotten a purely comedic performance from this particular actor, and Zombieland shows he’s still got the chops to pull it off. His last words brought actual cheers to the audience I was in.

Anyway there’s not much to write about Zombieland that hasn’t been covered in the last couple of days. Sufficed to say it’s a great piece of original horror, and it’s really been great to see audiences respond to it. Now whether this will teach the studios anything is another matter.

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