There is of course an exception to this rule. If a film is so good that is almost universally well-received by the movie geeks then it no longer becomes recommended to avoid it but perhaps even wrong, gore or no gore. Zombieland fits that bill.
The movie has a simple enough premise. A lone survivor (Jesse Eisenberg) travels across post-apocalyptic America (now Zombieland) to get to Columbus, Ohio in hope of finding an oasis free of the ravenous flesh-eating beings. Known to us as simply ‘Columbus’, viewers follow the journey of our hero as his path crosses with other survivors, zombie-killer extraordinaire Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson); and cunning sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), all making their way to their respective destinations. It’s a bloody trip across America, shells and entrails flying constantly, as the gang tries to stay alive and human.
To only speak of Zombieland’s story would be misleading. Columbus is the unlikely protagonist ‘with guts like a guppy’, surviving this long by virtue of his religious observance of his rules of survival, ‘Don’t be a hero’ ; ‘Always wear seatbelts’, and most importantly ‘Cardio’. Tallahasee obsesses over Twinkies, while the sisters will not trust any other human despite there being no one else. These individual quirks are by themselves funny but they don’t form the genius of Zombieland.
It is the irreverence of the characters. They treat their situation with a casualness that’s almost uncomfortable. They don’t panic as a crowd of zombies chase after their car in downtown Hollywood, no, they slow down and pick up a map to the stars’ homes. They talk about music; act out scenes from Ghostbusters; play golf, it is like they know how irredeemable their situation is despite their expressed hopes that the zombies become the least of their worries.
The characters are not merely trying to stay alive, they try to live a life. They are not zombie chasers, they would as likely drive around a zombie as they would kill them in cold blood. What they want instead is to basically live a normal life, to eat; to sleep; to love. I can’t tell you how much I find this refreshing for a zombie flick. There are no traces of messianic pretentions or survivors’ guilt of the more high-minded zombie fare. The zombies in Zombieland are not metaphors for the failures of modernity or society or other things; they are just flesh-eating former human beings that get in the way (though Kevin Rudd may not share my view on this).
Zombieland ultimately is a great movie that everyone above 15 will enjoy. The gore and body parts may make you wince at the start, but like the characters, you too will soon find it normal and focus on enjoying the little things in life.