I love zombie movies. The thing about zombie movies is you can do ANYTHING with the world. The obstacle is a force that has no country, no politics, no emotion (generally). This enemy has a singular focus… to kill leaving the humans open to experiment with all sorts of internal drama from gender politics to the police state. Loving it though I do, I’ll be the first to admit the genre has become completely over-saturated. However, to me, a bigger issue than way too many zombie properties is the stories themselves have become … so DOUR. Almost every version of a zombie movie is human suffering and misery and usually a bittersweet ending (or everybody just freaking dies). Of course, there are over the top exceptions, musical takes, and satire, but for the most part, the zombie genre is the moodiest horror genre lumbering around out there.
But not ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP.
What a RELIEF Zombieland has been since the first entry came out in 2009 written by Rhett Reese (Deadpool) and Paul Wernick (also Deadpool) and directed by Ruben Fleischer (Unicorn Store, Venom), a time when Shaun of the Dead was five years behind us and The Walking Dead was a just a year from premiering (and disappointing three years later). As the zombie genre was just finding its stumbling balance in human misery, here came a movie that was pure comic book fun while still maintaining the rush of terror that is the animated dead.
Then it was gone. And since the zombie genre, as stated with a few notable exceptions, evolved into a slow death march of depression. So imagine my excitement when ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP was announced (again, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick with Dave Callaham and directed by Ruben Fleischer). After a decade of “woe the world of the dead”, was I going to get another round of pure adrenaline, comic book, zombie mayhem?!
As the film started we were reintroduced to our characters of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and, of course, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). It’s ten years past since a strain of Mad Cow Disease mutated into “mad person disease” and the world became Zombieland. We join our heroes, now perhaps too familiar and comfortable in the zombiefied world, as they move into the White House (of course they do, who wouldn’t?) and settle into… they don’t know. That’s the driving force of this sequel. The first film was about survival. Now they’ve survived… now what do they do? How do you define your wants in this world where you can both do whatever you want but not have everything you need? The film could have gotten incredibly maudlin about the concept but kept it simple. They want “home”. To be settled without settling.
Little Rock takes off with a boy (and who can blame her, living ten years with no contact outside her sister, her sister’s boyfriend and Woody Harrelson with a blowtorch) setting everyone else off on a walking dead road trip to find her. Meanwhile, Zombieland has changed in ten years and I LOVE this development. Zombies have evolved, a concept introduced at the top detailing dumb zombies (“Homers”), smart zombies (“Hawkings”), fast zombies (“Ninjas”) and, most frightening of all, adaptable apex predator zombies that require more than a double-tap to bring them down (“T800” so named for the Terminator franchise). It’s a great, raise the stakes, touch. No more “point and shoot” kills. Never get too comfortable in Zombieland.
Overall, ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP is just so much fun. It’s one of those films you can almost see the writers and director enjoying the hell out of themselves as they create it. As in they must have gotten so excited to get Luke Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch and Thomas Middleditch on board to expand and deepen their weird world. Let’s be honest. It’s been pretty tense and tough in real life and film, in general, has expressed that, especially horror. It was so refreshing to have a horror movie raise my heart rate and be a small party to watch. ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital and includes bonus materials such as extended bloopers & outtakes, alternate & extended scenes, featurettes and more.