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Zombieland: Double Tap review - dead dull redo | reviews, news & interviews

Zombieland: Double Tap review - dead dull redo

Zombieland: Double Tap review - dead dull redo

Stunted sequel fails to add to the 2009 original

Zombie-kills with style

Another unnecessary sequel: we’re used to this sort of thing. The film knows it, too, as lead dork Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) meekly thanks the audience during the opening credits: “There are lots of options when it comes to zombie entertainment, so thank you for choosing us”. It’s a nice line, but feels like an apology for the film industry. “Bad films are everywhere, but this is the least bad”, he could have said. Fair enough. There are too many standard horror flicks, so shift the game (or try to).

Zombie genre parodies have been on the rise (see also this year’s The Dead Don’t Die) since the first Zombieland came out ten years ago. This film continues too safely in the mould of its original. We re-unite with the same troupe: gruff Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), cynical Wichita (Emma Stone), wide-eyed Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and occasional narrator Columbus. Tacked on are some occasionally funny, otherwise irritating newbies, including Luke Wilson trying to outdo Harrelson’s cowboy manliness, and a longhaired weed-smoking hippie from Berkeley. Originality, clearly, was never the aim.

One of the new characters does provoke brief twitches of glee through sheer ridiculousness. This is Madison (Zoey Deutch), possibly the most exaggerated parody-dumb-blonde in film history. She becomes a short love interest for Columbus, and annoys the brute machismo of Tallahassee. But she is a tiresomely programmed one-gag character. Jokes that satirise her ditzyness spring up as frequently as the zombies, and are just as lifeless.

Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg in ZombielandContinuing in the style of the original, Double Tap sets itself up as a kind of training manual for the apocalypse, a how-to for casually tackling the undead. Columbus has written a list of rules, which include “Cardio” and “Travel Light” as well as “Beware of Bathrooms” and “Check the Back Seat”. There’s also a running competition for “Zombie Kill of the Year”.

Wichita and Little Rock sadly play side-roles in the narrative after fleeing (understandably) their annoying male counterparts. As part of the search and rescue mission, the boys travel on a confused road-trip to arbitrary locations: a mall, Elvis’ Graceland, and finally a hippie commune. There is no decipherable narrative reason for these destinations, other than a character mentioning a desire to check them out.

If the plot is thin, then the writers seem to compensate by taking a machine gun approach to humour. Fearing a scarcity of good material, they fire off indiscriminate rounds of shallow and cheap gags, hoping the rapid fire blast will shield them. The effect is predictable: too many half-baked punchlines, too often, and squidged together in an annoying muddle.

Zombieland was a somewhat original idea in 2009, and surprisingly it still remains a somewhat original one in 2019. There are certainly no fewer “actual” zombie films lurching around, boring us all to the grave, so the need for an alternative remains strong. But Double Tap direly needs a better script and funnier jokes.

Continuing in the style of the original, the film sets itself up as a kind of training manual for the apocalypse

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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