Sunday, April 4, 2010

ZombieLand: The Tone

Part 4: The Tone

ZombieLand's tone is much different than that of the average zombie movie. Some compare its tone to that of Shaun of the Dead. I would disagree for two reasons: Shaun of the Dead did a much better job at being serious when it came time to be, and the type of humor is not the same, either. ZombieLand is purposefully campy, which is why they get away with certain bad writing (i.e. the poor love story, Columbus happening to run into a Haunted House at the theme park, the stupid clown at the beginning and end, etc.). You may defend this as it being a part of the tone, possibly even justify it by saying it is in someway a mockery/homage to so many other campy/bad zombie flicks. I just call it lazy. This is what many story tellers suffer from: laziness. This is mostly notably in the horror genre. Unfortunately this genre has been so pissed on that it's become popular because it's bad. Even when we end up with one good one, we feel the need to make five more that abandon what was good in the first and create campy recreation rip-offs to make tons of money (yes I'm talking about Saw). So ZombieLand, although campy in its own, lovely rights (i.e. the rules popping up in silly ways, Tallahassee wiping his face with hundred dollar bills, Bill Murray being in it and the Ghostbusters refrences, etc.), it is campy in ways I'm relatively certain were either unintentional or because they just didn't feel like it was important. I kind of agree with them, though, because the movie is funny, has a decent theme, and adds enough refreshing, new spins on the zombie genre. Instead of the movie collapsing in on itself with some sort of chaos camera even during normal scenes where eventually you get a headache and leave the theater vomiting and furious (28 Weeks Later), you get a movie with some very surprising realistic elements (i.e. no names just destinations, zombies walking on broken ankles, running around in circles, not buckling your seat belts, etc.). The problem is, that this movie is split between extremely campy and extremely realistic moments within seconds. With a tone this split it's hard to take anything seriously, and that's why I never found myself questioning the lack of plot, the characters' lack of sensible decisions when teaming up, or even why we had to mention clowns in the beginning of the movie for any other reason than to have the final scene be vaguely climactic. So trying to take anything in this movie seriously was almost impossible, which is why, again, I don't compare it to Shaun of the Dead. That movie wasn't campy, it had some surrealist jokes and just funny parts in general, but nothing that abandoned plot or character development or love story to the whims of one drunk scene in Bill Murray's house or putting on cologne. At any rate, the tone gets muddied at times, but ultimately the campy tone and comical dialogue trump any attempt at seriousness or climactic elements, which is okay. The movie doesn't take itself seriously, not even in its serious moments, so why should we?

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