05 October 2009

At the movies: Zombieland.

In but a few years since Mad Cow disease made the jump from cattle to humans, the world is very much a different place. The flesheating infected rule the land, and what few human survivors remain must battle both the revenants and each other to try and stay alive for one more day. As a few survivors band together (including stars Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson), they seek out whatever isolated pockets of civilization they can find. For in addition to the human spirit, certain processed snack foods and the tiniest luxuries have also survived the end of civilization. So there is some hope…

The trailers promise a snarky, almost metatextual look at the zombie film, and rest assured there are just as many laughs as there are grossouts to be found within. The recurring theme amongst advance word (and, oddly enough, rightly so) is that it’s a lot of fun but you shouldn’t read anything about it beforehand. This is absolutely correct- there’s a big surprise languidly waiting in the middle of this film, and anyone who gives it away is a jerkface.

Putting the big surprise aside, Zombieland is an impressive achievement. Using the exact same script, this could have been hipper-than-thou movie hell, so overly ironic and self-satisfied that no one with the slightest bit of humanity could enjoy it. But the cast all underplay beautifully, finding nuances and great little moments where there could have just been resounding emptiness.

Eisenberg is a great talent, and there are a few other great character turns (including a one-scene cameo from Mandy Lane herself, Amber Heard). Zombieland is gross, funny, smart, sick, and completely unpredictable. I'm truly happy to see that it's done well with audiences, but I'm also glad to see that R-rated horror is still a type of film that can never be completely counted out.

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