2019 | rated R | starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch | directed by Ruben Fleisher | 1 hr 39 mins | Halloween Horrorfest 2019 # 5 |
A full decade after 2009’s wonderful Zombieland, here comes the sequel perfectly titled, Double Tap with all of the original cast and returning director Ruben Fleisher. The 10 years fold together like no time at all and the movie hasn’t missed a beat. The cast is still game, the script is still as witty as ever and Fleisher keeps the motion graphic jokes fresh.
Interestingly, what has changed is the world around Zombieland. Back when it came out, the film was often mentioned in the same breath with the long shadow of Edgar Wright’s genre-defining zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. 10 years later, the zombie pop culture landscape is very different. The Walking Dead has spend that entire time grinding this genre down to a nub, squeezing every ounce of fun from it until hunting zombies became a laborious, miserable, mis-begotten puzzle box of misery clubbing us over the head with the same message for the last 7 years – humans are the real monsters. Yawn.
Zombieland’s view of the zombie apocalypse is wildly different and now refreshing. It’s a dangerous world out there, but it’s a bright one where survivors spend their days climbing through and playing around with the relics left in the wreckage of fallen civilization. Society fell apart in 2009, but it gave rise to a small makeshift family named after the cities they came from: Gun-totting NASCAR fan Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), fearful rule-master Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), sarcastic and distant Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Little Rock is the only member of the group who has grown up in the process and her desire to get a boyfriend and live life sends her away from the comforts of their home – the White House – and forces the rest of the group on a road trip after her that through Graceland and a hippie commune named Babylon.
Playing off of the personalities of the 4 leads, Double Tap is a snappy movie, getting a surprising amount of fresh mileage out of the family dynamic (Tallahassee becomes the overbearing father figure), Columbus’ ditzy new girlfriend Madison (Zoey Deutch), Columbus’ rules, presidential history jokes, Elvis puns, hippies and the movie’s own formula, turned inside out when they meet their doppelgangers on the road. Fleisher (who hasn’t made a good movie since, but did have a hit with Venom) balances the tone just right, keeping things light and fun while also keeping the zombie attack action exciting. An oh-so-trendy single-take action sequence where the group fights off attacking zombies in an Elvis-themed hotel is a highlight.
Unable to quite give it up, Fleisher can’t help but revisit the first film’s most famous moment, leading to an overlong, unfunny post-credit cameo sequence that doesn’t have a punchline. Still, Zombieland: Double Tap is another sequel that works, building off of the characters and finding fresh laughs & chases for a satisfying and consistently entertaining second chapter. If you liked Zombieland there is no reason not to like Double Tap. It’s more of the same without feeling like it.