By: Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer
When Zombieland was released ten years ago, it broke the horror genre’s mold by merging it with an upbeat comedic tone and a charismatic cast. Almost a decade later, the highly anticipated sequel Zombieland: Double Tap has finally made its way into theatres. Director Ruben Fleischer is back at the helm and the original main cast has also returned. While the film is successful in preserving the original cast and cinematic style, it is ultimately held back by a simplistic story,
Set several years after the original, Zombieland: Double Tap begins with our heroes arriving at The White House. After Columbus, Tallahassee, Little Rock and Wichita stylishly clear out an undead horde on the front lawn, they proceed inside to claim their new home. At first, they settle in comfortably. A month later, a teenage Little Rock desires to seek out other people, specifically a boyfriend, and an awkward and unsuccessful marriage proposal adds tension to Columbus and Wichita’s relationship. The girls take Tallahassee’s custom ride, both in search of liberation. Columbus and Tallahassee follow in pursuit, marking the beginning of another zombie laden road trip across America.
The film takes advantage of the time that has passed between the two films while mostly remaining consistent in tone. The gap is not only used to justify how Little Rock is significantly older, but it also adds new elements to the ongoing apocalypse. Instead of taking place mere months after the zombie apocalypse, the film takes place much later. While many of the living have learned how to survive in the new world, the undead have evolved as well. In addition to Columbus’ set of witty survival rules, he also has classifications for each evolved zombie.
For example, unintelligent zombies that chase butterflies over human flesh are known as “Homers.” Similarly, zombies that have developed intelligent hunting strategies are known as “Hawkings.” A subplot in the film is that a new variation of the undead emerged. Columbus refers to them as “T-800s” because they can absorb countless bullets, which certainly disrupts their usual way of life. These referential names are consistent with Columbus’ character from the previous film.
While Zombieland: Double Tap is successful in keeping the characters and tone consistent, the story is bare bones at times. The initial conflicts are what you would expect out of a sequel; a proposal goes sour and a growing teenager rebels in order to see the rest of the world. It feels uninspired, and as a result the main cast is divided for most of the film, which limits their overall interaction. This is disappointing since their scenes as a group are the highlights of the film.
Zombieland: Double Tap also doubles down on the comedy this time around. Although the original Zombieland is comedic in nature, it is balanced by being a faithful zombie flick. While the sequel certainly features zombies, it feels like the rapid comedic banter has taken center stage. A lot of the jokes feel really forced, sometimes seeming as if they are straight out of a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. For example, a side-gag is that Columbus and Tallahassee come across two other survivors that happen to look just like them. Columbus’ doppelganger Flagstaff even has a personal set of survival tactics that he calls commandments. Moments like this felt artificial, and make the sequel feel even more generic.
Zombieland: Double Tap is now in theatres.