Horror and comedy are two genres that mix surprisingly well, although the mixture is often not to the taste of everyone. Some classic cult and pulp films came forth out of this unlikely marriage, Zombieland could just as well be considered next in line. That is, if you can stand Woody Harrelson popping zombies with a smile.
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this film. The zombie rage is already subsiding again and previous attempts at mocking the brain-munching corpses didn't amount to much (not a Shawn of the Dead fan myself). The trailer and poster didn't look too promising either, so it was lack of better options that drove me to watch this one. Sometimes this leads to unexpected surprises.
I doesn't take the film too long to get up to speed. The first five minutes have some gooey deaths and a list of aptly visualized rules on how to survive zombies. Eisenberg's ever-present and self-introduced voice-over might not be to everyone's liking, but it sets the mood for a somewhat silly and dry-humored trip through the land formerly known as America.
Story-wise there is not much to talk about. Zombies have overrun the country, only a few survivors are left and four of them meet up to tour around together. Not as willingly as you might expect, but clichés dictate that in the end they get along just fine.
Visually Zombieland is quite fun and playful, although not actually pretty. Fleischer loves playing around with onscreen text, resulting is some rather humorous scenes and effects. It's a cool addition that found it's way into many films these last couple of years, but Fleischer manages to give it his very own twist. The rest of the film doesn't look too bad, but apart from the cool, deserted setting it's not exactly visually striking.
As for the acting, the film has solid performances all around. Most of the humor comes from Eisenberg's character. It took me a while to get over the fact that he looks and sounds a whole lot like Michael Cera (even plays a similar role), but his dry voice-overs and somewhat dorky presence work very well within the boundaries of this film. Harrelson is visibly having fun and the both of them make a good zombie-killing duo.
The film starts slacking just a little halfway through, but only for a couple of minutes. It's not a long film and the first and final part are plenty of fun, so there's not much time to actually get bored. The film has a surprisingly balanced focus on both comedy and horror and features some memorable scenes and interludes to increase the fun factor.
If you're up for an entertaining, funny and fast zombie flick than Zombieland should be first pick. Even though it's not wildly original it hits all the right notes. The presentation is fun and quirky, the humor somewhat silly and dry. Add to that some genuinely gory bits (though nothing too insane) and you're up for a fun and undemanding ride.
Don't forget to check the trailer, though I liked the film a lot better.