Films: Zombieland (2009)

It’s a fairly common theory about horror that the dominant scary monster of the age represents something the culture fears about itself. So what does it say about the early 21st century that we’re so preoccupied with zombies?

Today’s movie is Zombieland (2009.)


The story: Mad Cow disease brings about the end of the world. Columbus, our young narrator, explains how he has survived so far as he tries to get from Austin to Ohio, to see if his parents are still alive, between stealing cars and fighting off zombies. Along the way he meets Tallahassee, a Twinkie-obsessed expert zombie killer; and Wichita and Little Rock, two sisters making their way to California.

Much like how “Shaun of the Dead” is a romantic comedy with zombies in, “Zombieland” is a road picture with zombies in. Four misfits find each other and form a family, pure and simple. The cast is charming and there’s a brilliant cameo, and Toledo’s List of Rules gives insight into his backstory.

The ending, though. The ending is set in an amusement park, the ultimate destination of the sisters, who go there believing it’s the last place left with no zombies. And that’s true until they start up the rides and lights, and then every zombie within ten miles comes to the park.

These are two girls established to be savvy enough to have survived as grifters before the apocalypse. and then they light up an amusement park in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. In TV Tropes terms, this is the most idiotic of idiot balls. This is a Too Stupid to Live move, and seems to be a real stretch made solely to give Toledo the chance to be a hero.


Is it scary? No. It’s hilarious and a little gross (though on the less gross side than many zombie movies), and the climax is frustrating, to say the least, but the movie is sweet at its heart. How many horror movies can say that?

My favorite zombie story is the BBC series In the Flesh. The zombie apocalypse happens and everyone who died in one particular year rises again; a cure is found, and our hero, Kieran, is one of the zombies who has been cured. The series follows his attempt to live a normal life, as well as a mysterious Undead Prophet who believes the Undead are the true Chosen of God. Unfortunately it ends on a cliffhanger and was not renewed, but the nine episodes we have are just brilliant.

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