Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 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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