In amongst almost any genre will be a parody or spoof film, but the two unlikeliest types of films join together with mixed results. Both horror and comedy cause the body to have a reaction, whether it is recoiling from the screen or howling with laughter. The best ones cause a physiological reaction. It does not surprise when films like The Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London and Shaun of the Dead work as both horrors and comedies. The latest in this line is Zombieland, another 'Zom-Com' in which the living dead have taken over the world - the USA at least - leaving only a handful of survivors.
We first meet a paranoid shut-in who, because he is afraid of just about anything, has managed to stay alive by religiously following his own rules which stress the importance of fitness so he can outrun the zombies, the 'double tap' where you don't skimp on ammo and even if it looks dead, shoot it again to be sure and always making sure to check the back seat of a car. Desperate to reach Columbus, Ohio, he encounters his mirror opposite, a man who relishes violence, hates zombies with a passion and lives to find and eat a Twinkie! Names are not important and only serve to bring people closer so you are affected when the die so our hero is known as Columbus and his companion is Tallahassee.
Whilst robbing a supermarket to find the elusive cream filled snacks, Columbus and Tallahassee run into sisters Wichita and Little Rock who pull a great con and nick their car. Fortunately someone has become zombie food and left behind a Hummer packed full of very big guns so the men aren't without transport or weaponry for long.
It isn't long before the expected happens and the two pairs are forced together, with trigger happy Tallahassee getting on surprisingly well with 12 year old Little Rock, leaving Columbus to stumble romantically around Wichita, who he hopes will be the girl whose hair he can comfortably brush behind her ear.
The girls want to travel west to Pacific Playland in California where they have heard there are no zombies and, as Wichita has inadvertently let slip that Columbus is a ghost town and Tallahassee doesn't really have anywhere else to go, they decide to tag along. A stay in Beverly Hills changes things, following a chance encounter with a resident.
Made by filmmakers with little experience of feature films, though a great deal of TV work appears on their filmographies (with the exception of Rhett Reese, who wrote Cruel Intentions 3 and additional material for Monsters Inc., so not a great guideline of quality) but they have teamed up with ambition, a high concept project and know exactly who their target audience is. Zombieland is full of jumps, laughs and innovative moments and has characters who you like and care for. It also is very funny and has one of the all time great cameo appearances.
I loved it at the cinema and again at home so it does stand up to repeated viewings and, despite the jokes not catching you unawares and knowing who the cameo is by, it loses very little second, third and even fourth time around.
I went into the commentary with quite low expectations as those with a number of participants don't tend to work - this has five, both writers, the two male stars and the director - but it proves to be one of the exceptions to the rule as the people in the recording booth don't talk over each other or get side tracked, providing a revealing and an enjoyable chat through the film.
The same can't be said for the PiP option which contains interviews, storyboards and behind the scenes footage but the clips are short and few and far between. The movieIQ option is worthwhile with trivia, information about the music and filmographies available at the touch of a button.
The two main featurettes are very well constructed, complement each other well and give you a good look behind the scenes and the chance to hear more from those involved.
There are also a series of promotional trailers with Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg reading out, and answering letters from people around the country. The theatrical trailer is also included.
It is increasingly becoming the case that you watch a Blu-ray Disc of a film only a few months removed from its theatrical run and it is spotless, pristine and extremely impressive and Zombieland is no exception.
The colours and contrast are as good as you should expect, the green screen and CGI blend in flawlessly and there isn't anything wrong with the picture - it looks great and the SFX makeup is utterly convincing.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Track is very well mixed and presented with crystal clear dialogue, very well used surrounds and superb music, both scored and sourced. The aural stabs that accompany the jumps are very effective and will have the more nervous viewers squirming and looking for something to grab onto!
Whilst not as accomplished as Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is an absolute riot that delivers laughs, jumps and gore throughout and doesn't overstay its welcome. The casting was perfect with Woody Harrelson obviously enjoying making the film as much as I did watching it, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin improve with every film and newcomer Jesse Eisenberg is perfect in a role that could have been written for Michael Cera.
This was one of the best horror-comedies of the 21st Century, young though it is, and even stands up with the very best in the genre. The disc is very good, with a wealth of extra material and the superb AV package makes one to buy.