Zombieland: Double Tap is the sequel to 2009’s Zombieland, continuing the adventures of a group of survivors trying to make the best of a very bad situation. It’s still the post-apocalypse and hordes of the undead are still shambling about, eager to find their next meal from a dwindling number of humans who managed to keep alive during it all. While this is far from being an original concept, what helps make this particular take on the zombie mythos stand out from the pack is its no-nonsense blend of comedy and a love of over-the-top violence and gore, not unlike Edgar Wright’s 2004 classic take on the zombie genre Shaun of the Dead, though not quite as silly.
Its extreme gory violence, along with it’s narrator story-telling style, might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but the same could be said of zombie films in general. Just my like, I happen to be a fan of all those things and found this long-awaited sequel a fantastic blend of zombie comedy action that more than lives up to the original film.
Set a decade after the events of 2009’s Zombieland, Double Tap finds our surviving heroes from the first film enjoying a period of safety from the zombie horde within the presidential walls of the White House. The gang’s all back, including Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), his Twinkie-loving and cowboy hat-wearing pal Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), his obvious love interest Wichita (Emma Stone) and her younger sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). After settling in they make best with what they have, trying to approximate a “normal” life among the chaos. But being closed off to the outside world starts to take its toll on their happiness, and it’s not long before their well-guarded home begins to feel like a prison.
Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) is most affected by unhappiness as she has grown into a young woman and yearns for a relationship with a young man her age. Her choices, naturally, are limited. As Columbus and Wichita are the most stable couple around, they also remind Little Rock there’s more to life merely her survival. The only other person she can spend time with is the older, overbearing and overprotective Tallahassee, a man severely lacking the emotional intelligence to understand her needs which leads to Little Rock wanting to leave.
When Columbus spooks Wichita by proposing marriage to her, Little Rock and Wichita set off to find adventure on their own leaving Columbus and Tallahassee on their own in their massive zombie-proof bachelor pad. That is, until they cross paths with Madison (Zoey Deutch) – a beautiful, pink-wearing blonde who takes an immediate interest in the heartbroken Columbus after not feeling the touch of a man for a very long time.
But it’s not long before Wichita returns to let the guys know that Little Rock has run away with a pacifist musician called Berkeley (Avan Jogla), the two most likely headed to certain death. They all agree to team up and find the youngest member of their ragtag “family” before she becomes a zombie’s next meal. It’s not going to be an easy mission. Not only is there a newer, harder-to-kill zombie type roaming the earth, Madison tags along for the ride as Columbus’s new girlfriend which makes the car ride for the rescue-team more than a little awkward as Columbus still wants to marry Wichita. What could possibly go wrong?
What makes this movie so enjoyable is Woody Harrelson and newcomer Zoey Deutch. Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone make perfect on screen comrades, but it’s Harrelson and Deutch that make this movie so funny. Harrelson is, once again, perfectly cast as the gun-tooting, car-loving, zombie killing, macho Elvis fan. He’s in top form as he seamlessly delivers an intense, charismatic and crazed performance that had me in stitches throughout the entire film. I feel like he was born to play this role. His comedy is further fueled by a great script and him being the hyperactive yin to Eisenberg’s neurotic yang. The two make a great polar-opposite onscreen duo and Harrelson really shines in this film.
While the rest of the cast give admirable performances, special mention needs to be made about Zoey Deutch’s dim-witted Madison. Coming unexpectedly left field without any warm-up for the audience, she jumps in at comedic full pelt and is a breath of bright, fresh air on a tapestry of death and dark colors. In a movie already bursting with creativity and great performances – both new and returning – I was amazed at how funny Deutch was and found her amazing.
Returning director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Venom) has done a masterful job of delivering a gruesomely funny popcorn flick. While I would have liked a bit more zombie action – they could have done much more with the new type of zombie – it is nonetheless a very solid zombie sequel that delivers laugh after laugh with a strong, witty script and fantastic casting. Double Tap does lull in parts (again, more zombies would’ve solved this issue) but what it lacks in zombie death potential it made up for with strong themes about the importance of family and appreciating what you have.
Zombieland: Double Tap is a silly but very funny movie. It’s also very, very gory in parts – just like the original was ten years ago. In a year already filled with impressive zombie-comedies like One Cut of the Dead and Little Monsters you’d think the genre would be (forgive me) tapped out of new ideas, but you would be wrong. It’s not trying to be anything more than an action-packed zombie comedy set on making you laugh as much as cringe while spending time with a few old friends. With a simple, yet hilarious story packed with great performances – especially from Harrelson and Deutch – this is an easy recommendation if you’re hungry for some zombie action and don’t mind seeing some gruesome undead headshots. Just stick around after the credits roll for some bonus laughs. You don’t want to miss that. Trust me.