Ruben Fleischer’s debut, Zombieland, was essentially the American answer to (the far superior) Shawn Of The Dead and a promising calling card for the first-time director. The horror-comedy somehow turns 10 this year and to celebrate the decade, Fleischer has reassembled the original cast – Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin – for a belated sequel that no one was really asking for.
From the opening, which mirrors the same slow-motion credits as the original, you know this is a film that’s happy with coasting as a shameless reanimation. It slips back into a familiar groove as we’re reunited with the dysfunctional makeshift family who have to deal with new(ish) threats, including evolved breeds of zombies, hippies and a Luke Wilson cameo.
Zombieland: Double Tap revisits what made the original so much fun, and in doing so, ends up as a rehash that can be at times very funny. The main snag is that, in the oversaturated zombie genre (and far too many episodes of The Walking Dead since 2009), Double Tap brings nothing new to the table. It’s a reheated follow-up that feels like a collection of sketches haphazardly glued together: some get a pass (Zoey Deutch does her absolute best as the new addition to the group, a wafer-thin caricature of a ditsy Valley girl that somehow works) while others fall completely flat (the doppelgänger segment featuring Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch should have ended up on the cutting room floor). The safe approach is countermanded thanks to the knowing script from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Still, it’s hard not shake the impression that everyone has moved on by now: Fleischer was at the helm of last year’s Venom which, while utterly naff, was a huge hit at the box office; Stone is an Oscar winner; Harrelson got nominated for two; screenwriters Reese and Wernick wrote the Deadpool films…and the audience has had their fill of zomcoms.
In the end, you get what you pay for with this sequel. If you liked the original and fancy a second helping, dig in. If, however, you’re looking for something with a little more ambition, prepare for a let-down, even if it’ll undeniably pass the time.
Zombieland: Double Tap | Directed by Ruben Fleischer (US, 2019), with Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin. Starts Nov 7.
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