The satirical comedy-horror Zombieland is back to feast upon audience brains once more! And it’s as sharply written as its first outing, I’m glad to say. Yes, fans should be more than happy with Zombieland: Double Tap as an ‘evolution’ of the original Zombieland splatterfest. Emma Stone is still an enthusiastic member of the survivalist gang led by the grizzled Woody Harrelson, but an increasingly reluctant girlfriend to the ever-nerdy Jesse Eisenberg, while the zombies have had an upgrade – some of them are now silent ‘ninjas’ while some of them won’t stay down, just like ‘T800s from Terminator’.
Our hardy band of survivors start by ‘setting up home’ in a derelict Whitehouse. There are jokes about various presidents of the past… and there’s an implicit criticism of the most recent president, of course. Yet the politics are never laid on too thick (cos politics don’t really matter once there’s been a zombie apocalypse), the piece appropriately preferring a whimsically-philosophical tone punctuated with scenes of outrageous dismemberment. The two female leads soon get hacked off with the creepy Woody and clingy Jesse, and take to the road, leaving just a badly written note behind them. Yes, the film is actually more interested in exploring the nature and value of both interpersonal and social relationships: you see, manners, class and romance have no real value when you’re running out of bullets and there’s a horde of brain-eaters chasing you.
So, it’s not a brainless film by any means. Far from it. Woody has a side-quest to visit the home of Elvis (Graceland), but the younger characters don’t ‘get’ it cos they have no real memory of the King. This theme of the next generation not really sharing in the values of the previous generation is repeated throughout the movie (e.g. in one funny scene, a hippy guitarist tries to impress the girl by pretending he wrote Bob Dylan songs), without passing any negative judgement. As a result, the film has a surreal out-of-body feel throughout. It’s refreshing to see everything from this different perspective, to re-evaluate our pre-conceptions, etc.
Woody and Jesse manage to track the female leads down to a hippy commune called Babylon (named after the David Gray song, cos no one remembers back before that!). Everyone entering has to give up their guns, the weapons melted down to make peace necklaces. Woody and Jesse join the party, wondering if they’ve finally found the home they’d always dreamed of. With strong enough walls, maybe there’s no need for killing anymore. (Yup, another debate for contemporary America.)
Better leave the plot there, before people weep about spoilers. Honestly, though, the plot is pretty much the only throwaway thing about this movie. It’s all about character interactions and dreams – dreams of our youth, dreams of finding home again, nightmares about monsters, and so on. Here’s hoping there will soon be a third instalment to the Zombieland franchise. Double Tap scores 7.4 out of 10 on IMDb, and I think that’s about right. Hurrah!
[A J Dalton is the author of the zombie trilogy Necromancer’s Gambit, Necromancer’s Betrayal and Necromancer’s Fall, so he knows a thing or two about zombies.]