Friday, 16 October 2009

Welcome to Crapland

For some reason I am completely alone on this one, but you know what? I didn't like Zombieland (2009).

Feels good to write it down. And now, as always, I'm going to tell you why...

First of all, I'm not buying the cheaper version of Michael Cera that's on offer (Jesse Eisenberg, not that you need remember his name) - if you can't afford diamonds that's cool, but let's please leave the cubic zirconia back in the dress up box, no? Secondly, the zombies suck: they aren't nearly slow or vacant enough and as such they barely constitute social commentary, which, let's be honest, until the likes of Zack Snyder and Danny Boyle came along and fucked things up by changing the tempo, is what they were always (slowly) there for. Thirdly, Zombieland is boring because it's just another typical, predictable, formulaic and thus unwaveringly dull, stock standard US comedy. Sorry folks, but it just ain't all gravy.

These were my surface complaints, and now for my formal ones.

  • Formal complaint number one: it isn't a horror film. Where's the suspense, the gore, the unadulterated and unflinching carnage I was promised? Well I can tell where it's not: anywhere in the film, that's where.

  • Formal complaint number two: the rules. They're not particularly clever or insightful and let's be honest, as far as self-referentiality goes it happily checks any ounce of innovation/intellect that it might have had at the box office - where your money now resides, smugly in its place. The cliches aren't parodic, they're tiresome.

  • Formal complaint number three: tacky sentimentality. Seriously with this one, what the fuck? I mean, "Rule 32: Enjoy the little things", are you for real? That said, maybe we can give some credit for it being the most horrific moment in the film: did almost get a visceral reaction from me, as I dry retched into my purse that is.

  • Formal complaint number four: heteronormative, all-American nuclear family propaganda. Now if you're reading my blog then you already know that this stuff really grinds my gears. Two boys, two girls; starts with a father figure to a young, lost boy, and comparably, a mother figure to a lonely, young girl, then, the oedipal complex kicks in (in an all too obvious manner) and the boy overthrows his father to get to the mother (yawn). Later, the 'father figure' undergoes a reversal and becomes the child, ending the film with a happy family of four in an ultra enviro-friendly 4x4- all's well that's ends well, innit? Actually no, it fucking isn't.

  • Formal complaint number five: it reinforces hateful stereotypes. I'm not going to dwell on how distasteful I found the scene where white men literally smash the products of indigenous American Indians, but I will say this: the scene was presented as another moment where you are supposed to 'enjoy the little things'; all-important, all-American, though really, they are all-encompassing fascistic actions where race relations, colonialism and the destruction of an indigenous culture are presented as 'the little things'. Really fucking nice.

  • Formal complaint number six: lots of 'little things' in the film were accumulatively annoying. The false sentimentality of dialogue such as, "I haven't cried like that since Titanic" was lame and trying at best, the two leads dancing together was almost akin to watching Beauty and the Geek - only minus the sincerity or good humour, the automatic running of the rides was not only ridiculous for its blatant disregard of health and safety regulations, but it is actually impossible to run a ride whilst on it. Plus you probably need, I don't know, training. Oh yeah, and the overly stylised heavy use of slo-mo in the opening credits really pissed me off too - it's unnecessary, well, rather, it would have been if the film were actually any good.

  • Formal complaint number seven: the snakeskin jacket. How. Fucking. Dare. You. Harrelson is no Sailor and Zombieland sure as hell ain't Wild At Heart (1990). Fuck you Zombieland.

  • Formal complaint number 47: the way in which they abandoned the sequential nature of the rules and began to jump ahead as if there were so very many of them. Just to be clear, calling this my 47th complaint doesn't mean there are 47 complaints. It's my eighth formal complaint, and you know why? Because eight follows seven, that's fucking why.

The only thing I took from the film was the reminder that "twinkies have an expiration date". Yes, that's true. And so does your crap, generic film that relies all too heavily on cheap laughs in place of actual content, Mr Fleischer, but you didn't bother to check the expiration date on that now did you?

Perhaps I'm being harsh (though I doubt it) and maybe it's because I'm not a 14-year-old boy (though the film got a 15 rating so surely it was aiming for a slightly more mature audience), but it seems you need to be incredulously juvenile in order to enjoy the emptiness this film offers. There is in fact so little that constitutes interesting in this film that even I am amazed to have found myself able to write so many words about it. Though in my defense, a fair fucking few of them are profanities.


  1. Hmmm,

    Some of your arguments are valid and taken in the context of 'each to their own' and 'personal opinion is, well, personal' are sound. However there are a few wayward points that seem to be misjudged in a mist of predetermined hatred.

    For example: Not all zombie films shoot for Romero-esque social commentary, and that's ok, it really is. Fast zombies are ok too, they can live-side-by-side with their slower moving cousins. Rules come and go, change, and mutate with time. Just look at vampires. It would all get rather stale otherwise. This is not so much an observation about Zombieland, but more a counterpoint to your assertion that the genre has been ruined by said changes.

    Perhaps if you were left as one of the few survivors of a zombie apocalypse you would enjoy the small things.., I think I would. I didn't think that was overly sentimental.

    All American normative family propaganda. I see your point, and it occurred to me while watching. However, I'm not sure if propaganda is the right approach. Rather this is pretty much a staple of American mainstream cinema is it not? A convention perhaps? Not to say this is a good thing by any means. But this is part and parcel of much pop-American output and always has been, just as rejection of this model is so often the staple of European cinema. You could just as easily criticize that approach as 'agenda'. Sometimes I think it mustn't be lost that these film are the product of an American culture.

    I think the 'running of the rides' and 'health and safety' comment is pedantic at best. That approach would really suck the fun out of films. Would you prefer a fifth character written in simply because he/she happened to have adequate health and safety qualifications and once worked a summer operating theme park rides? I bet you don't like the end of National Lampoons Vacation (1983) very much. Sequential numbers? Come on, now you're just being facetious right?

    Taking all the negatives into account, don't tell me you didn't enjoy Bill Murray running around with a Hoover on his back recreating scenes from Ghostbusters? For most fans of 80s comedies this was a lovely moment, especially given Murray's distance from this, his most popularly revered film.

    Now I do wholeheartedly agree with you on many many points. As horror it was a letdown, the trashing of the Native American store was misplaced at best (why not a Sears?), and there is nothing insightful to the rules whatsoever. However I'm not a 14 year old boy, quite the opposite. I am a rather well educated individual who, after spending 6 years in higher academia, thinks that sometimes, some people, need to relax a little more in the cinema.

    Hopefully that is a constructive response, without a profanity in sight.

  2. The one question that I can't find an answer to is - why did they bother making it? They obviously have no real affection for the sub-genre (those phoney rules aren't fooling me) nor any burning subtext beneath the surface. The only thing going for the whole thing is the Harrelson/Eisenberg double act, but although I found this to be fairly entertaining it is not substantial enough to carry an entire film, even an 82-minute one.

    Ditto the recent The Hangover - once again a film which critics who should know better have drooled over, but again a film devoid of any ideas or invention and solely relying on its performers' pratfalls for its laughs (I would note that TH also features a 'hilarious' cameo, namely of convicted rapist Mike Tyson). While I didn't hate ZL as much as TH, they both stink of Hollywood cash-cows. Boo.