Zombieland is not the reinvention of the zombie horror genre but it is the innovation of it. Fun, not based on blood and splatter but occurring around it and because of it, is the grand exhale awaiting horror and zombie film inside of the realm of Zombieland, or Zland, as it’s surviving, human inhabitants refer to it as.
With Torture Horror on the decline of popularity and certain zombie films not living up to the hype, 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later being the exception, Zombieland takes the road less traveled, and involves a far less realistic approach to the end of society via zombies and a zombie virus. At same time, the viewer is given a comedy horror movie hybrid involving zombies and the undead running unhindered across the globe.
The greatest comedic asset to Zombieland are the rules introduced by the film’s main protagonists Columbus Ohio (Jesse Esienberg), and later expanded upon when he comes into contact with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). The survival rules are flashed across the screen first as an illustration of the ways in which Columbus Ohio has managed to stay alive when almost everyone else in society has perished and second as comedic billboard elaboration of what just happened on screen and why it has occurred. Everyone will have their own favorite rule(s): Rule 1. Cardio, Rule 2. Double Tap, Rule 3. Beware of bathrooms, etc. Double Tap is the rule that will probably be the crowd favorite as it used to great effect numerous times. Double Tap is not a mere Columbus Ohio rule for surviving in a zombie-infested world. It is also an admonishment for the asinine behavior exhibited by protagonists in many previous zombie films where they believe the zombie to be dead (idiotic since they are already deceased) only to be attacked, bitten, and doomed (being bitten infects you with the zombie disease) because of their oversight and lack of thoroughness.
Zombieland is not perfect and was never intended to be the quintessential zombie film, the zombie genre’s The Godfather. That title probably belongs to Romero’s Day of the Dead, which examined societal behaviors in the context of a zombie movie. Diverting from social commentary was zombie foray Shaun of the Dead, where the film’s main protagonists were actually human zombies, drones oblivious to the world around them. Shaun of the Dead successfully mixed comedy with a zombie outbreak like in Zombieland but not nearly with as much flare as has been accomplished in this film
Zombie lexicon digressions aside, Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland, like its final local, is an amusement park for zombie and horror film lovers. The implications of the characters’ lackadaisical attitudes and apocalyptic realities (represented in McCarthy’s book The Road and Matheson’s book I Am Legend) are left by the side of the road like expired Twinkies. Like Twinkies however, Zombieland is sweet and will be out of your system quickly but it is fun while being consumed.