CINEMASCOPE: DISTURBING THE DEAD

October 27, 2019

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Zombieland (2009) was released at the height of the revival of zombie fiction in pop culture. At a time when zombie stories were trending in video games, board games, movies and graphic novels, the film carved its own space by offering a fusion of horror and comedy in a post-apocalyptic future.

Surprisingly, this sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, comes out an overlong decade after its predecessor. In the last 10 years, The Walking Dead has commanded television viewership with not one but two shows, with ratings for each falling steadily. Clearly, we’re all suffering from zombie exhaustion. This could be one of the reasons why I was left only somewhat entertained by Zombieland: Double Tap.

While the film earns a few chuckles, some of its shots don’t hit the target. Many jokes didn’t seem to resonate with the rest of the audience either at my screening, despite the script having been written by some of the writers of the Deadpool films.

Admittedly, the charismatic cast tries their best to keep things engaging, especially Woody Harrelson, who returns as the fun-loving politically incorrect Tallahassee. A lot has changed in the last 10 years, with many performers now boasting Academy Award mentions on their resume. This includes Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus), who plays Tallahassee’s no-nonsense partner and the foil for his shenanigans, and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock), who was nominated for an Academy Award for Little Miss Sunshine (2006).

Although the cast do their best to keep Zombieland: Double Tap engaging, the characterisation, dialogue and story are too weak to hold viewers’ interest

There’s also the Academy Award-winning Emma Stone (Wichita), who plays Little Rock’s older sister. Newcomers include Rosario Dawson (Nevada) who plays Tallahassee’s love interest, and Zoey Deutch (Madison), who plays a stereotypical dumb blonde. Amusingly, you also have Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch, playing almost satirical versions of Tallahassee and Columbus.

The entire cast seems to have fun in the role, and their energy is infectious. Unfortunately, the brain-dead nature of the script is distracting.

Zombieland: Double Tap takes place years after the first film. Our heroes now live in the White House, having fun and smoking Bill Clinton’s infamous cigars. While they’ve grown closer over the years, they also bicker like any family. When Little Rock and Wichita leave over a disagreement, Columbus finds a new romantic partner. This is to the annoyance of the returning Wichita, who informs them that her sister has run off with a cannabis-smoking hipster boy who’s appropriately named Berkeley (Avan Jogia).

The entire cast seems to have fun in the role, and their energy is infectious. Unfortunately, the brain-dead nature of the script is distracting.

Our heroes set off to locate the pair and, along the way, run into more adventures involving zombies, gunshots, and monster trucks. Eventually, they run into more agile zombies called super zombies.

Although the cast of Zombieland: Double Tap do their best to keep the film engaging, the characterisation, dialogue and story are too weak to hold our interest. The narrative should have been better considering that they had so long to make this film.

One of the best parts of any zombie film is the action. There are many amusing scenes here that add to the escapism, though the characters in Zombieland: Double Tap never feel like they’re in actual danger. However, the final act is full of gratuitous escapism and is the best part of the film. If the film had been as enjoyable throughout, it would have been worth raising from the dead.

Rated R for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content

Published in Dawn, ICON, October 27th, 2019