Arts & Life, Movies

Navigating Netflix: Zombieland

Here’s the thing: I hate zombies.

They’re slow, tedious, and every story featuring them plays out roughly the same as people run away from shambling hordes and find ways to survive while they’re slowly picked off. And there’s rarely an explanation for what’s caused the zombie apocalypse in the first place. It just sort of is. Then there are the stories with zombies that deviate from the norm with variations on speed, attack method, and cause when that’s actually specified. Though it’s doubtful that they can really be called zombies given the roots of the mythos, the survival horror porn motif persists no matter what type of zombie pack you’re running from.

All of that being said, there are a few zombie flicks I’m a fan of. It’s hard to ignore the cultural subtext of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead is a brilliant satire of the entire genre. Though Undead Nightmare, the DLC for Rockstar’s video game epic Red Dead Redemption, isn’t a movie it is a rare treat when a combination of zombies and westerns works out so very well. And then there’s Zombieland.

This 2009 flick brought comedy to the land of zombie survival horror porn, something that land desperately needs more of. It’s the story of an unlikely group of survivors trying to make their way through the aftermath of yet another unexplained zombie apocalypse.

Jesse Eisenberg is our main hero, teaching us applicable lessons about how to make it in this new world.

Emma Stone and Abigail Bresslin show us how to play the game, always to your advantage.

Woody Harrelson…well, Woody shows us how to love the freedom of the zombie apocalypse.

It’s Harrelson’s character that really jumps this film up 42 notches. He has taken enduring what other films portray as a nightmare to a new level by revelling in the slaughter-fest. “Tallahassee”, as he’s called in the film, was born to live in this new world. He finds increasingly inventive ways to slaughter his undead, unthinking enemies with less than no mercy. From guns to farming implements and beyond, Tallahasee is the best at what he does and what he does is make sure that the undead go back to just being dead.

Shaun of the Dead is definitively the gold standard of comedy zombie movies. It directly challenges the stereotypes of the genre, simultaneously utilizing the tropes to tell a story and lampooning them. While Zombieland doesn’t have the same incisive skewering of an entire genre, it’s filled with bright, wry comedy that surprises the watcher with how witty it is in the midst of the horror.  And that is mostly due to how well the tight, four member main cast jells together.

What makes Zombieland better than your average zombie flick is the humour. While still filled with its fair share of tragedy, especially in the back story of the main characters, it’s also a witty, funny, and engaging film. Zombie films are often dreary, dull, and predictable. Zombieland is not. Just remember the key lesson the film has to teach us: watch where you point a gun in Bill Murray’s house.