The art of the zombie genre comes down to the taste of its victim - I mean, viewer; it really depends if you prefer yours with a dash or comedy, gore, social commentary or even romance. The art of the sequel, on the other hand, lies entirely in the skills of the cast and crew - the script, direction, acting or visual effects can play a big part in whether a follow-up film is really worth it. ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ is a mutation of these two elements - so 10 years after its predecessor, was it worth digging up this cult zombie comedy from its grave?
The gang have settled down in Zombieland, taking up residence in the White House, and finding themselves able to relax and unwind in the relative security... that is, until Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, ‘The Art of Self-Defense’, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, 'The Social Network') severely misreads the serenity and proposes to Wichita (Emma Stone, ‘The Favourite’, ‘La La Land’, 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'). The next day, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, TV's 'True Detective', ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise) and Columbus wake up to find Wichita and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, ‘August: Osage County’, 'Little Miss Sunshine') have bolted in the night. In time, Columbus meets the bubbly yet brainless Madison (Zoey Deutch, Netflix's 'The Politician', ‘Before I Fall’) - just in time for Wichita’s return to ask for help after Little Rock goes missing. So they head off in search of her - only to discover the living dead have gotten a lot tougher since they last took them on.
Picking up with little backstory, it’s easy to see ‘Double Tap’ is designed for fans of the original. Besides a summary of the zombie skill sets, we’re not given much background to 'Zombieland' lore or the gang’s history - and that probably works in favour of the film. Columbus still has his rules, and there’s still a tonne of sarcasm, but for the whole we’re just sitting back to enjoy the dynamic of these four fantastic actors.
What starts off well slowly loses its bearing, with the big zombie battle at the film’s finale leaving the story patched together with a series of convenient coincidences. Bouncing from set piece to set piece becomes tiring, and the conclusion feels too tidy. By its end, it’s clear this journey is unnecessary aside from revisiting these old friends. And while the dynamic is still there, the level of humour isn’t; although it’s entertaining, there aren’t really any laugh-out-loud moments to kill you with comedy.
As with ‘Zombieland’, we bear witness to a ridiculously talented onslaught of talent. Without the key four actors, this sequel would be nothing, and they remain pitch-perfect even when the script is not.
Still, these downsides are more than made up for by the cast. As with ‘Zombieland’, we bear witness to a ridiculously talented onslaught of talent. Without the key four actors, this sequel would be nothing, and they remain pitch-perfect even when the script is not. It’s always a joy to watch Emma Stone spar with her dry wit, or Jesse Eisenberg pull off the loveable nerd character. Add on top of that a wickedly impressive supporting cast - Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, Avan Jogia, and yes, Bill Murray is back. But the award for MVP must be handed to Zoey Deutch; becoming the fifth wheel for this post-apocalyptic road trip was never going to be an easy task, and yet she manages it flawlessly. Pulling off the sorority schoolgirl with ease, she skilfully takes a wildly irritating character on-screen and makes her endearing to the audience.
Even with its flaws, ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ doesn’t overstay its welcome with its 99-minute run time, and remains a solid piece of popcorn entertainment. Although it doesn’t push any boundaries, it’s harmless fun (the Homer zombie of horror films, if you will... that’ll make more sense after you’ve seen it). So stumble into a cinema and join these friends on a reunion - sure, one filled with endless blood, guts and brains, but that’s half the fun of a zombie comedy, right?