Zombieland combines my love of that Michael Cera-esque geek whimsy, Emma Stone being cool as hell and parodies on Zombie films.

The plot centres around Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) a college student with quirky habits, social anxiety – especially nae luck with the ladies – and a list of rules to stay alive in Zombieland, formerly known as America. He’s trying to reach Columbus, Ohio where his parents live and teams up with trigger-happy Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who has a personal vendetta against all zombies for killing his little boy, and is on a mission to find the last Twinkies on earth. Now as a Brit I have no idea what a Twinkie tastes like and very little notion of what it actually is to be honest. But I feel after watching Zombieland, all expectations will be dashed if I ever try one.

All the main characters are referred to only by the places they’re trying to get to, so as not to get too attached – according to Tallahassee. Later in the film, the guys are thrown together with Wichita (my hero Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who have survived by trusting no-one and conning their way across the country. After being twice duped by the girls, the four of them team up and make their way to Pacific Playland, an amusement park which is rumoured to be zombie-free.

Zombieland works to invert, undermine and highlight certain zombie-movie and dystopia tropes:

1) Zombie apocalypse
Often viewers never find out how or why the zombie infection began and spread so rapidly. However, in this film, Columbus explicitly states that it began with someone eating a burger infected with mad cow disease. The disease mutated and affected humans, leading to the outbreak. 
Columbus’ rules include i) Cardio – fat people can’t run away as quickly ii) Seatbelts – safety first even in a dystopia and iii) Beware of bathrooms – zombies are likely to strike when you are most vulnerable. The viewer is given extensive reasons why Columbus has survived; it is because of his reclusive and paranoid nature.

2) The hero and damsel in distress
In dystopian universes our protagonist must usually act heroically in some way to save his friends or love interest. Here we see the female protagonists being able to defend themselves perfectly well (nice one Hollywood) and Columbus being the most helpless of the gang at times. He does pull through though when the chips are down.

3) The great evil that must be overthrown
There’s no master villain or overarching malignant force that must be defeated here. The characters’ only real mission is to get to Pacific Playland by any means necessary, and only because it’s better than no plan at all. Survival is the main aim and there’s an emphasis on ‘enjoying the little things’ rather than blubbing or trying to figure out how to fix the world.

4) Emotional partings and sacrifices 
Tallahasse in particular has a very no-nonsense attitude: “Nut up or shut up” and is keen on keeping emotional distance. Even when he reveals the loss of his son, which in a video game like The Last of Us would be a tear-jerking cinematic moment, there is comic relief in his line: “I haven’t cried like that since Titanic”. The movie takes the piss out of itself and out of the melodrama it could fall into. 
The first ruse Little Rock and Wichita use on the guys involves the emotional turmoil of having to kill an infected little girl before she goes zombie on them.

5) Zombie bluffs and the dehumanisation of the zombie
The idea that zombies don’t attack their own kind is common in movies of the genre and this is spoofed here with a cameo by Bill Murray who has survived the apocalypse by dressing like a zombie and going about his business. Murray also remarks that Eddie Van Halen has become a zombie, thus bringing celebrities back to very mortal humanity and also re-humanising the zombies by highlighting the fact they were once people.
Tallahasse and Columbus also exchange stories about ‘Zombie Kill of the Week’, the most creative way to get rid of a zombie.
Simple, I know, but often zombies are made ‘the other’ or used to highlight the innate corruption of humanity; it’s nice to see a blend of both used in Zombieland. 
Also, when Columbus meets his first zombie, his hot neighbour from 406, he tries to reason with her and eventually brings a fumbling death to her, apologising all the way. That’s a British thing to do. I can see myself passive-aggressively bludgeoning a zombie and apologising with every swing.

I know it plays on tons of other tropes from dystopias and zombie films, but these were the big five that stood out for me. 

It’s a cracking little film that manages to spoof and re-invent some classic elements and makes a change from all the doom and gloom heartstring tugger dystopias.

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