Sequels are regularly billed as hard to pull off. Often, the first film in a series is a breath of fresh air, full of new ideas and bringing renewed energy to tired thoughts, and the theory goes that their sequels never live up to the hype. Well, Zombieland: Double Tap would like to remind you that sequels may lose some of the originality but don’t have to lose their sense of sheer fucking fun.
It’s been 10 years since the first Zombieland arrived in cinemas and much has changed in that time. Our heroes have become a family, Columbus and Wichita are stuck in a rut, Tallahassee has turned into an overbearing father-figure and Little Rock has outgrown the family routine. The four have become the quintessential dysfunctional family, and their time spent in the zombie-apocalypse has changed little about the way people act. So much so that before long Wichita & Little Rock have jumped ship in order to take to the road on their own again. Once the family have been separated, the two groups come across new survivors and new zombies.
Released at a time when the zombie-horror genre was overstuffed and required something different, Zombieland has since gained a cult following. Full of humour, knowing winks to the genre and a dash of emotion, Zombieland was the film horror fans needed. Jump forward 10 years and it seems not much has changed. Zombies have overtaken the popular conscious and the dead truly have inherited the earth. The likes of The Walking Dead, World War Z, .Rec and iZombie all feature their own take on the zombie outbreak, but Zombieland was the film that wanted to tear it all down just to take the piss.
This time however, Zombieland: Double Tap has less to say about the genre and instead aims to continue building its own world that our survivors must live in. Having spent a decade living in this landscape, our heroes have grown comfortable with each other and are now fully accomplished zombie killers. Likewise, the actors have grown into their roles and coming back to this world feels like meeting up with old friends. Woody Harrelson is as sharp as ever, while Jesse Eisenberg has lost none of his nervous charm. Likewise, Emma Stone remains bad-tempered and yet maddeningly beguiling. It is only Abigail Breslin who suffers, as her character becomes more of a plot device and spends the majority of the film away from the action.
As with all sequels, comes the inclusion of new characters. Here, we get Zoey Deutch’s Madison. At first, she comes across as annoying, playing some caricature of a blonde bimbo, but Deutch manages to bestow Madison with an exuberance and somehow pulls off the trick of making her an entertaining member of the team. Cameos from Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch were telegraphed in the film’s trailers, and may have had more impact if this wasn’t the case. Regardless, their team-up is welcome and an hilarious stand-off between Harrelson and Wilson makes for a wonderful diversion. The real winner however is Rosario Dawson as Nevada, who runs the Elvis themed motel our heroes wind-up in. Strong, confident and absolutely taking no shit whatsoever, Nevada is also warm, compassionate and full of hope.
While the finale seems ever so slightly laboured, and can literally be seen coming a mile-off, it still manages to be thoroughly entertaining and has the sense that things may not end as we well as we had all hoped. It’s testament to a film that may come across as trivial, that the audience cares so much about what happens to the characters in it. Zombieland: Double Tap never outdoes the first film, but it does at least match it and for that I think we can all be thankful.
Zombieland: Double Tap is in cinemas now.