Nerds Gets Spooky: Learning the Rules on the Run in ‘Zombieland’


Courtesy of ‘Zombieland’

Each day for the month of October, the staff here at Nerds and Beyond are recommending our favorite spooky movies to get you in the Halloween spirit. This next one is another one of our favorites: Zombieland.

Folks, it’s been 10 years, and Zombieland is still alive with new scare zones, a new movie, and new characters. It’s clear the original film released in 2009 left a lasting impact on viewers, though looking back, there was an insane amount of zombie-related content being released, reaching vampire-levels of over-saturation. So just how did Zombieland slice its way through?

The Rules

Rather than dropping audiences into a dystopian battleground with a grizzled veteran explaining the tips and tricks to staying alive, Zombieland gave us Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg). Analytical and OCD, Columbus survives by sticking to his own set of 32 rules, including everything from “beware of bathrooms” to “don’t be a hero.” He’s quirky and concise, but most of all, he’s an awkward kid who might just be living more in the zombie apocalypse than he ever did under the endless formalities demanded in civilized society.

The Family

Characters in the Zombieland universe are named after the places they’re from. For example, Columbus is from Columbus, OH. Tallahassee, the mentor on this Hero’s Journey that absolutely no one asked for, is your typical guns-blazing, crazy “white Florida man” from Tallahassee, FL. Our two strong female protagonists (really, they’re amazing) are sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), which we’re assuming are the cities where they were born.

The only character who actually receives a name is Bill Murray (played by Bill Murray), who iconically survived the apocalypse by dressing up as a zombie and wandering about his day-to-day disguised as one. Tallahassee loves him like a god.

The Setting

Again, Zombieland isn’t set in an organized war between zombies and humans. It also doesn’t dramatically attempt to show the initial fallout as the human race experiences infection. Instead, this comedy/horror/adventure locks us securely into a world where normal people are just trying to get through the day and find purpose in their lives. Sounds familiar, right — well, except for the zombies.

The comedy, too, is ideal for the younger Millennial generation who were actively going to see the film 10 years ago. After a slew of depressing gore fests, this was a movie with young protagonists taking charge of their lives and making it work. Forget minimum wage, forget college, forget expectations — Zombieland gave us an apocalypse worth surviving.

The sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, arrives in theaters on October 18.

Jess is a 90’s Slytherin who loves cartoons (Go Team Venture!) and 15-minute theme park queue lines. She spends most of her free time reading and writing about the hurry-you'll-miss-it, always exciting themed entertainment/experience industry. You can find her on social @shockscribble

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