Love, Laughter and Gore

Zombieland *** 1/2

Zombieland is set in a post-apocalyptic world where almost the entire population has turned into members of the undead. A few survivors have managed to avoid contamination, and the movie follows their quest for survival. The film follows the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Shaun of the Dead in attempting to walk the thin line between a horror and a comedy.

The sucess of Zombieland comes through in the balance between the humor and gore. Due to the strong script and exceptional chemistry among the leads, the film is able to find a balance between the two genres.

In Zombieland, a virus has broken out and started to turn people into flesh-eating zombies who, in turn, spread the virus by biting other civilians.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as Columbus, a loner on his way home to Ohio from his college dorm in Texas. Although Columbus never had a strong connection with his family, he is driven to make sure they are not bitten. Being scrawny and cowardly, Columbus does not seem to be the sort of person who would survive an outbreak. However, he has stayed alive by sticking to a set of survival rules.

Along the way, he comes across Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a man with nothing to lose and no rules to follow. Even though their personalities contrast, they choose to stick together for a while. They subsequently meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock
(Abigail Breslin), two sisters looking for a zombie-free zone.

The four leads of Zombieland bring the action alive with terrific acting. Eisenberg plays his usual stuttering, know-it-all nerd. However, he shows some range with good comedic timing and delivery. Harrelson garners the most laughs with his portrayal of Tallahassee, a well-meaning cowboy who has made an art
out of zombie killing. His mannerisms and delivery round out the appealing characterization of Tallahassee, and ultimately creates one of the most likeable zombie-killing heroes in recent movie history.

Stone is extremely likable as Wichita and represents a female who, in a time of crisis, stays strong and takes care of her younger sister. Breslin does an admirable job and is believable as a 12 year-old hardened by the disturbing event that has happened to the world.

The movie works best when the characters are
together and are allowed to play off each other. There is a natural chemistry among them, which is enjoyable
to watch. This also elevates many of the jokes, since they are coming from fleshed out, believable characters
rather than stereotypical caricatures.

Along with exceptional actors, Zombieland also features a terrific script. There are numerous
clever jokes written with biting realism. Some of the most interesting moments are when the characters meet and start to get to know eachother. The atmosphere is set up well and Columbus’ narration never seems intrusive and always earns a laugh in some sense.

The film does have minor flaws, such as predictability and a semi-frustrating third act. There are
moments where the characters act only to further the story, even though what they are doing is obviously misguided. This mainly occurs in the last act of the film, which is the only time the film feels forced and overwritten. However, Zombieland bounces back quickly
with a finale that makes up for the slight predictability.

Overall, Zombieland is an exceptionally amusing and clever addition to the horror/comedy genre.