Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

‘Zombieland’ infects audiences

Every one of us has to live by our own set of rules. Some rules tell us how to behave socially, while others may guide our ethical decisions. In director Ruben Fleischer’s maiden film “Zombieland,” a young man named Columbus doesn’t bother himself with guidelines of those sorts. He has written his own set of rules with a single distinct purpose: keeping himself alive in a land of the dead.

Fleischer’s paints a comedic picture of a world overrun by America’s favorite fiend in “Zombieland.” While most non-sequel zombie films depict the outbreak and spread of a zombie epidemic (think “Resident Evil” and “Dawn of the Dead”), this one places viewers in the fallout, in a world where a virulent strain of Mad Cow Disease has already turned the U.S. into the Unites States of Zombieland.

The film follows a young man named Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg, whose fearful and neurotic nature make him an unlikely hero. Eisenberg narrates the story and lists off his rules of zombie survival, which seem plucked from a cache of horror-movie clichés (Rule number 3: always check the back seat).

Columbus soon joins up with a mismatched group of survivors, including the standoffish but beautiful Wichita, played by Emma Stone and the spritely Little Rock,“My Sister’s Keeper” star Abigail Breslin and set off towards an unclear goal of finding “home.” The survivors are known to one another only by the names of their intended destinations (i.e. Wichita and Columbus) and trust is a major theme that runs throughout the movie.

Eisenberg, who seems to channel Michael Cera throughout most of “Zombieland,” does a good job at being the reluctant hero, but calling him the star of the film would not be exactly accurate. The real star of the show is Woody Harrelson, who plays the zombie-killing savant Tallahassee. The Twinkie-loving cowboy upstages the action in a good way, and according to Columbus, “When Tallahassee goes zombie killing, he sets the standard for ‘not to be fucked with’.”

Harrelson also notoriously garnered attention after production wrapped for “Zombieland,” after an abrasive run-in at La Guardia airport.  An aggressive photog prompted him to launch into what he later claimed was zombie survival mode. Clearly, the paparazzo in question hadn’t caught a sneak peak at any trailers for the impending film.   

Back in “Zombieland,” director Ruben Fleischer doesn’t skimp on the gore when it comes to the shambling dead, and the death scenes often seem over the top. Scenes of zombies feeding are particularly gruesome, and whenever the survivors decide to kill one of the infected, they see it through. The levels of blood are significant but not overwhelming, and despite the brain smatterings it is not by most standards a scary movie. Those who are particularly squeamish should most likely stay away, but “Nightmare on Elm Street” this is not.

While the fear factor in “Zombieland” is not as high as it is in others in the ghoulish genre, horror is not exactly the point. The fact that the film shies away from the gritty, “28 Days Later”-style scares draws instant comparison to 2004’s zom-com romp, “Shaun of the Dead,” but such a parallel is not quite fair. While “Shaun” was a dark comedy and a parody of the zombie genre, “Zombieland” is an extension of it, carving out its own particular vein of “action-zombedy.”

This may seem like an odd combination of concepts, but “Zombieland” makes it work beautifully. The action is top-notch, with Woody Harrelson blasting his way across the country in style, bringing a sick sense of humor to the zombie-killing business. The film keeps the action fresh throughout the story, and whether the weapon is a banjo or an Escalade, de-animating the damned has never been so funny.

The human side of “Zombieland” is also well done, making it hard not to root for the survivors no matter what circumstances they find themselves in. Fans of zombie fiction will certainly be pleased by this farcical romp through the land of the living dead, and anyone who doesn’t mind seeing a bit of brains would do well to make the trip to “Zombieland.”

Andrew Sheridan can be reached at Asher1@student.umass.edu

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