In an apocalyptic world teeming with the undead, Zombieland carves out a unique niche, blending horror, comedy, and a dash of sentimentality into a rollicking good time.
Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Bill Murray and Abigail Breslin, this 2009 film directed by Ruben Fleischer takes viewers on a madcap journey through a zombie-infested America.
Aided by a witty script and standout performances, Zombieland doesn't just aim for the head; it takes a shot at your funny bone too, and rarely misses.
What Is Zombieland About?
Firstly let me say that Zombieland is not a horror zombie movie in the traditional sense. The focus is definitely on the comedy, although it can be gory in places, especially the hilarious ‘Zombie Kill Of The Week’ montages.
Secondly, I will add that Zombieland has no real plot to speak of, other than poking fun at the zombie genre and giving the audience big laughs along the way.
The movie kicks off with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a socially awkward and paranoid college student who has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse through a set of stringent rules like “Always double-tap” and ‘Don't be a hero” which he has to change after facing his greatest fear (a zombie clown) to help Wichita and Little Rock.
Columbus is trying to make his way to Ohio to see if his parents are alive, but his plans change when he encounters Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a zombie-killing cowboy with a love for Twinkies and a deep-seated hatred for the undead.
Together, they form an unlikely duo as they embark on a road trip to reach their respective destinations.
Along the way, the duo encounters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), sisters who have been surviving by scamming other survivors.
After a series of misunderstandings and betrayals, the four decide to join forces, though not without reservations. After a brief stop in Tallahassee and Bill Murray's house, the group sets their sights on a Californian theme park called Pacific Playland, believing it to be a zombie-free zone. But, as is the case in this twisted reality, nothing goes as planned.
As they battle hordes of zombies and navigate the complexities of a post-apocalyptic landscape, each character confronts their past and their fears. A layer of emotional depth emerges amidst the chaos, especially when it comes to family and loneliness.
This is epitomised by Tallahassee’s back-story which reveals that his bravado is a coping mechanism for a personal tragedy. In contrast, Columbus finds himself developing feelings for Wichita, raising questions about love and trust in a world gone mad.
As the quartet must defend themselves against a seemingly unending wave of zombies, they use every trick and weapon at their disposal, turning the amusement park into a battleground.
But in a world overridden by zombie attacks, can they find a way to survive?
Zombieland Official Trailer
Is Zombieland Worth Watching?
Zombieland was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick the team behind the hugely successful Deadpool franchise. As you’d expect the dialogue is sharp and witty and Woody Harrison does a great job delivering his lines as the uber cool ‘Tallahassee’.
The movie masterfully blends horror, comedy, and drama, offering scares, laughs, and moments of genuine emotion in equal measure.
It also makes excellent use of narration, visual aids like Columbus's rules appearing on screen, and clever editing techniques to keep the narrative engaging and fast-paced.
If there was a criticism I would say that while the film does an excellent job focusing on its four main characters, it offers little insight into the broader world and how the zombie apocalypse came to be.
The lack of a storyline doesn’t prevent this film from being brilliant funny and hugely enjoyable. The humour is perfectly pitched and the cast is totally on point.
Let's be fair, zombie films rarely have any major plot other than simply surviving. But at least in this one, there are plenty of laughs along the way
How Many Zombieland Movies Are There?
There are two main movies in the Zombieland franchise.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, this is the original film that introduced audiences to the characters of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock as they navigate a zombie-infested America.
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
This sequel, released a decade after the original, brings back the original cast and continues the story as the characters face new challenges and encounter additional survivors. It also explores how the zombie apocalypse has evolved over time.
Rumours of a third instalment have circulated, but so far nothing concrete has ever been announced.
Cast Of Zombieland
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, Columbus' trusted partner. He hates zombies and enjoys killing and torturing them.
Jesse Eisenberg (Fleishman is in Trouble) as Columbus, a young man who lived by himself before becoming one of the few survivors of the zombie apocalypse. He lives by a strict set of rules to stay alive. Columbus narrates the movie.
Emma Stone as Wichita, Little Rock's older sister and Columbus's love interest. She is one of the few survivors of the zombie apocalypse, and overly protective of her little sister.
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock, Wichita's 12-year-old sister. She is sweet, but not that innocent.
Bill Murray as a fictionalised version of himself, still living in his Los Angeles home and regularly disguising himself as a zombie to travel around the area.
Amber Heard as 406, Columbus's ill-fated neighbour who becomes the first zombie he kills.