We’re coming up on the tenth anniversary for this movie, AND it’s getting the long-awaited sequel it finally deserves. To paraphrase one of the main characters here, now is as good as any time to nut up or shut up. This post-apocalyptic horror comedy film originally premiered at Fantastic Fest in 2009 to a highly enthusiastic reception from critics and genre fans. It was later released in theaters worldwide by Sony and Columbia Pictures on October 2nd of that year, a week earlier than had been advertised. Within its first 17 days, it managed to gross over $60 million at the global box office, eventually bringing its total intake to $102.4 million. This made it become the highest-grossing zombie movie to be released in North America, a position previously held by Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004. Directed by Ruben Fleischer in his feature-length debut, the incredibly witty screenplay was written by Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The idea for the film had floated with them for years, and originally wrote it as a television pilot in the summer of 2005. Although one specific part had been written for Patrick Swayze, the actor was too sick from terminal pancreatic cancer and over a dozen other stars were considered before settling on someone else. One of its other stars had a number of demands before signing on, including the director changing his diet, and allegedly attacked a TMZ photographer while in character. Set two months after mad cow’s disease devolved into a zombie apocalypse, Jesse Eisenberg stars as Columbus, a college student who lives by a strict set of rules. On his journey to see if his parents are still alive, he runs into another survivor called Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson, who’s very violent in his killings. The two of them then encounter sisters Wichita and Little Rock, played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, who have a hard time trusting anyone. The four of them begrudgingly agree to travel to an amusement park in Los Angeles that’s supposedly free of zombies, and unexpectedly become closer as they make their way. Zombie stories are nowhere near anything new in movies, but they’ve come a long way from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Some are extremely gory, others are more sterile; some are loaded with sociopolitical undertones, are just as mindless as the undead roaming the frame. And others, like this one, are just the right amount of fun and emotional to carry itself for the runtime. I remember really liking this movie the first time I saw it, but after seeing Venom, I worried that maybe Ruben Fleischer’s directorial skills weren’t what I remembered them being. It’s not often that some comedies hold up on repeat viewings, especially if they were released years ago. But that’s not the case with Zombieland, as it still proves to be a very funny and bloody good time. I had genuinely forgotten how sweet-natured the film is, which balances out the wittiness and snarky humor typical of Reese and Wernick’s work. Rather trying to be a serious commentary on contemporary society or human nature, the film is more concerned with telling a story about an unconventional makeshift family. Even though we never learn their real names, we really grow attached to the four central protagonists as they learn to trust other people again. Another thing that sets Zombieland apart from the rest of the pack is the inclusion of Columbus’ extensive list of rules. All of them make sense in the context of the apocalypse, and several others are so amusing because of how weirdly specific they can be, such as “Beware the Bathrooms.” Even though not all of them are explicitly given in the movie, it’s a neat and unique way for worldbuilding. Right before creating Facebook and alienating everyone around him, Jesse Eisenberg puts in earnest and funny work as Columbus. High-strung as ever and always thinking on his feet, his small physique and demeanor juxtapose his harsh view of the new world. Meeting these new people clearly has an effect on him as he suddenly and willfully thrusts himself into danger to keep them all safe and alive. Woody Harrelson delivers arguably his most iconic performance as Tallahassee, a redneck with a big penchant for Twinkies. A man’s man if ever there was one, he has an enormous amount of bravado and pride that attributes to his instinct for distrust no matter the situation. But underneath all of the macho gun action and hilarious one-liners is a fundamentally lonely man broken by the status of the world around him. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are both badass and funny in their own right, always thinking on their feet. It’s clear that something happened to them that instilled a great feeling of antitrust among fellow survivors and always keep trying to move along to the next “safe zone.” They provide a great foil to the more masculine attitudes of Tallahassee and Columbus and all four intermingle perfectly throughout. And as many have already heard, Bill Murray makes an all-timer of a cameo in this film as a fictionalized version of himself. Although he apparently wasn’t the first choice, he gamely puts his effort into this hilarious and self-deprecating caricature. When asked if he has any regrets about the world before the apocalypse he casually replies, “Ehh, Garfield maybe.” And meanwhile, the technical aspects of Zombieland show its effort to stylistically separate itself from other entries in the genre. Michael Bonvillain’s cinematography is highly stylized and frenetic, which lends well to the chaos of this post-apocalyptic world. Not many shots are handheld, more often opting for more controlled or gliding shots into the madness as the four protagonists try to fight their way out. It also frequently lets a shot be drawn out for a pause to make a comedic moment much funnier. This goes almost hand-in-hand with the joint editing job by Peter Amundson and Alam Baumgarten. At 88 minutes long, the scenes are all cut together at a brisk and consistent pace that mostly flows well all the way through. There’s a really great opening credits sequence that shows a slow-motion highlights reel of the initial outbreak of the zombie virus which sets the unorthodox tone to come. The film also features cutaways from the main action to a different scenario. For example, if a character feels particularly proud of a zombie kill, Columbus’ narration will bring up another example of an exceptional kill somewhere far away. More energetic and fun than meaningful and serious, Zombieland is an appropriately zany and subversive breath of life in the genre for the undead. While not really classic, Ruben Fleischer, along with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, are able to inject some great thrills balanced with lighthearted moments. The core four cast members really help to sell this story of a makeshift family trying to find solace after the end of the world. It’s a great movie to watch every now and then with a group of friends and still doesn’t lose its luster after all this time.