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Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland (2009) exceeded box-office expectations. At one point, the movie was at the top of the box-office list edging a Walt Disney animation movie and a film by Drew Barrymore (Wigler, 2009). Even in the face of weak competition Zombieland’s significant earnings was unexpected considering the fact that it was zombie movie that fell under the comedy genre. Actually, Roger Ebert, the world-renowned film critic was dumbfounded by the movie’s popularity (Ebert, 2009). Ebert had troubled accepting the combination of features that includes skill in tracking and hunting prey, agility, and low intelligence. However, one can argue that the movie attracted moviegoers due to its ability to pass on social commentaries and life lessons that reverberated with the audience.
The Portrayal of Zombies in the Movie
Film critics like Roger Ebert and Peter Bradshaw pointed out the essential characteristics of a typical zombie movie. Ebert made his observations known through sarcasm when he wondered about the logic of creating a zombie with instincts of a vicious killer and the skills of terrifying predator inside the body of one of the dumbest creatures in the movie world? Ebert saw the contradiction in the creature’s capacity to eliminate prey without the mental power to take cover after seeing a two-barreled shotgun a few inches away from its face. A suspension of belief and logical thinking is required in order to enjoy this type of narrative. Nevertheless, the creators of Zombieland followed the basic formula on how to depict Zombies on film.
In a typical characterization, zombies are like brain-dead human beings. Zombies are clinically dead because they do not have control of their mind and body. They are made different from vampires due to their lack of self-control. They are also different in terms of the process of the transformation from healthy human being to a crazed murderer that feasts on human flesh. In the case of vampires, there is a mystical or supernatural element, but when it comes to zombies the modern day version points to a highly virulent or highly evolved virus as the transforming agent.
Gore and Carnage: Enhances Story or Sources of Distractions?
Fleischer, the principal creative force behind the film followed the standard formula. However, there were two major embellishments. First, the zombies had a greater appetite for human flesh and a higher level of savagery. The unexpected level of viciousness significantly alters the way the audience perceives the creatures as something of a hybrid between vampires, werewolves, and the mummy-like version of a zombie. Second, the film’s zombies have the capacity to sprint like a postman chased by a bunch of rabid dogs. Bradshaw raised his observation regarding this added feature, and he had difficulty accepting the logic of adding speed to an already deadly mix of predatory skills (2009). However, a few minutes into the film, the audience finds the justification for the said embellishments. It became clear when survival strategies were spewed out like punch lines, and the people watching the film found it hard to stop laughing. It made a lot of sense to argue that the film’s creator wanted to develop something unique.
The images depicting gore and carnage was unnerving at first (Dargis, 2009). At first glance, the excessive display of blood, entrails, and human matter was a distraction, but it became clear that this type of images were needed because it had to create a counterweight to the significant comedic elements of the film.
Survival Techniques that Were Employed by the Survivors
After half an hour into the movie, the film producers intended message started to emerge. The zombies, the carnage they created, and the world that they transformed became part of a backdrop to a story about the American people and the struggle to embrace important values due to life’s worries and the struggles of a preoccupied mind. For example, the survival techniques that were supposed to function as critical information and crucial skills in surviving a zombie attack were actually important life lessons that human beings are supposed to know even in the absence of a zombie-induced Apocalypse. As a result, the first punch line came in the form of Rule No. 1 on how to survive in Zombieland, and that is to make sure that the person maintains a certain level of physical fitness. Consider the following guidelines: Rule No. 4: Wear seat belts; Rule No. 7: Travel light; and Rule No. 31: Check the backseat. These are sage’s advice that people should know by heart.
Social Situation Addressed in the Film
After an hour into the movie, the film’s value shines forth like a beautiful gem. Zombieland was a roaring success at the box-office because people thought they came to see zombies, but they encountered a social commentary. These messages were delivered in a subtle way so that those with little discernment were able to enjoy the obvious narrative, the exploits of the principal characters trying to survive a world infested with flesh eaters. However, those with higher levels of cognizance saw through the film producer’s attempt to influence people’s behavior by repackaging important ideas that the audience may find boring and cheesy if delivered in classroom or a church setting. Thus, the critics who initially cringed at the thought of zombies running like elite sprinters had to change their minds after realizing how profound messages – such as it is imperative to enjoy the little things in life – were able to get through without resistance.
One of the most powerful messages in the movie was delivered like a knockout punch that no one saw coming. In one scene, inside Bill Murray Beverly Hills mansion, the four principal characters were playing board games. They were using real money, presumably from Murray’s ample cash reserves. In the middle of the game, Tallahassee, the character played by Woody Harrelson started talking about the death of his son. He became so distraught that he began to cry, and in order to wipe the tears from his eyes, he used real money as tissue paper. The message was sent loud and clear. People should learn to straighten out their priorities even if the possibility of a zombie infestation is not in the picture.
Zombieland’s box-office success had a logical explanation. The film was able to attract people with a need to watch a highly entertaining film, but at the same time, delivers a heartfelt message when least expected. In addition, the depiction of zombies in a film that falls under the comedy genre created something new and fresh. More importantly, the film’s producers were able to insert life messages that the audience wanted to hear but were uncomfortable of receiving the same in a formal setting like a classroom or within a religious edifice. Inside a movie house, when they least expected it, they learned to value the more important things in life.
Bradshaw, P. (2009). Zombieland. The Guardian. Web.
Dargis, M. (2009). Following a gore-slicked path. The New York Times. Web.
Ebert, R. (2009). Zombieland. Web.
Wigler, J. (2009). Zombieland kills at box-office. Web.