Welcome back to the United States of Zombieland!
It’s been 10 years since Zombieland first hit the multiplex. The wickedly funny horror flick breathed life into the stagnant zomcom genre with a brilliant ensemble cast (featuring Bill Murray in one of the most unexpected celebrity cameos of all time), plenty of gore and a quick-witted script.
Ever since the first film’s release in 2009, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have spoken about a sequel. But in 2016 those dreams finally came to fruition. A second instalment was confirmed and – after a delayed production process – the gang is finally back together again (albeit with a few more awards to their names).
Zombieland: Double Tap picks up a fair few years after the events of the first film. At a glance, it looks like our survivors have settled down to a cosy life of domestic bliss. They live in the White House now (obviously), celebrate Christmas in November and have had time to perfect their zombie-killing skills. They’ve even got round to categorising the flesh-eating bastards. There’s inoffensive Homers (named after the slovenly cartoon character), Hawkings (much cleverer), ninjas (silent but deadly) and the T-800 (properly hard to kill – just like the Terminator baddies). It seems like they’ve finally found a home in the all-American apocalypse.
Look a little closer though, and you’ll see everything is starting to fall apart. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wichita’s (Emma Stone) relationship is on the rocks, Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) has turned 18 and desperately wants to fly the nest, and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is dealing with his family – who he’d only just got used to – splitting at the seams. After Wichita rejects Columbus’ marriage proposal, she scarpers with Little Rock to escape the crushing domesticity. Later, Little Rock meets Berkeley (Avan Jogia) – a cute, hippie teen who doesn’t believe in violence against the undead – and they end up ditching Wichita by the side of the road.
What comes next is basically a road movie, as we follow Columbus and Tallahassee’s quest to track down their errant pals. Along the way we meet a host of new characters too. There’s Nevada (Rosario Dawson) – a self-reliant survivor with an Elvis obsession – and Madison (Zoey Deutch), whose ditzy, Juicy Couture-wearing bimbo only survived getting eaten by living in a fridge in the mall. These two add an extra flavour to the narrative, but the same can’t be said for Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), characters introduced purely for a doppel-gag where the duo’s personalities mirror that of Columbus and Tallahassee – a joke that wears thin pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, as things progress it all becomes fairly predictable. Extended battle scenes drag, the banter becomes unsurprising and each nostalgic reference grows boring. By the time we get to the inevitable brain-splattered conclusion, everything feels rushed with dramatic moments lacking payoff. Whilst the core cast inject some much needed energy, it often seems like the film is trying to recreate the magic of its predecessor, rather than add anything new.
For the most part, this is an absolutely fine sequel, which you’ll enjoy if you loved the first film. But did we really need a second chapter to this story? 10 years on, Zombieland remains the most fun you can have with a zombie flick – and sadly, Double Tap won’t change that.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, Rosario Dawson
Release date: 18 October, 2019