Reed Alexander's Horror Review Compares 'Shaun of the Dead'(2004) and 'Zombieland' (2009)
A Tale of Two Zom Rom Coms
I'd first like to thank the Greenville Drive-In for the good times I had over the last few months and for the double feature they played on their last day this year. If you're in the local NY Capital Region or around Greenville NY, these guys play the best movies. See their FB page. They'll open again May 2019.
Anywho, this year-end double feature was Shaun of the Dead, (SOTD) and Zombie Land (Z- Land). Two comparable Zom Rom Coms. And, I'm about to explain why SOTD is better. Z Land isn't bad, but it just doesn't hold up to SOTD.
But what makes SOTD better is substance not technique. Both have amazing actors. Both have smart settings and great atmospheres. And as their plots are almost identical, so what sets them apart is the characters and the story.
Lets just talk about the characters before we get into the spoilers and this will explain everything. Shaun V Columbus. Shaun is your grade A, wasted life, loser. He's a man who just never looked at life with any passion and never aspired to anything. Columbus is a whiny little weasel who comes off as a fucking bitchy "Incel" whose sole purpose in Z Land is to impress a woman. Shaun can give us growth as a person when he's thrust into greatness. Columbus gives us awkward, unearned, forced hero vibes.
Ed is a daffy fuck up who, lets be honest, spends SOTD basically finding inexplicable ways to get the other characters into trouble. Tallahassee is the only decent character in Z Land with more than one dimension. Even still, he exists basically just to be a hyper testosterone filled juxtaposition to Columbus. Ed is necessary to highlight Shaun's vulnerabilities as a person and a leader. Tallahassee exists to show that the writers could take the concept of a zombie apocalypse seriously.
Liz is a woman, who realized she needs to make something of her life right before life takes a turn for the bizarre. While she is jokingly placed in the position of the damsel in distress, at no point does she ever needs Shaun to save her. Wichita is a one dimensional damsel in distress waiting to happen, dragging a little girl across the country to what anyone could identify as certain doom, who is inevitably fixed by the presence of a penis. Liz is an independent and meaningful character. Wichita is the stereotype of a bitchy, untrustworthy temptress.
Then there is Shaun's mom Barbara and Little Rock who both don't really amount to more than McGuffins With Legs. They basically equal each other out.
Do you see where this is going? The cast of SOTD is just more likable. They're more relatable, and they have more character development. Even Shaun's mom who is just a McGuffin with legs has more character development than Little Rock. Little Rock is literally just being dragged to her doom by her dumb sister, but Barbara flushes out Shaun's character by adding context and history.
Z Land did have Bill Murray. They score points for that!
How the ever living fuck could Wichita not realize that she was dragging her sister across the country to her doom? Everyone, AND I MEAN EVERYONE who watched Z Land knew that the moment they got to the amusement park, that the lights and noise was going to attract every biter in the San Fernando Valley. Lets completely ignore that fact that there's no fucking way there should be enough electricity anywhere to run a whole fucking amusement park... I just want to call fucking bullshit that the park wasn't so packed with zombies that it looked like a Queen concert. They establish that you can see the fucking lights from miles away. Second, the only reason Wichita was that fucking painfully brainless, is because the writer needed her to be a helpless damsel so Columbus could swoop in and save her. I am SO fucking tired of this dead trope. And what's worse, these pricks dragged the plot kicking and screaming to achieve this trope. If Wichita was the independent bad-ass this movie spent so much time establishing, none of this shit makes any fucking sense.
I still like Z Land. But as a Zom Rom Com, it just doesn't compare to SOTD.