After ten long years and a failed television show, Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock made their grand returns in the post-apocalyptic zombie world. Unfortunately, the sequel wasn’t met with as much critical praise as the original, with Zombieland: Double Tap getting a low 68%, compared to its predecessor’s 90% rotten tomatoes score. This time, Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock travel from the White House to Graceland to seek refuge in a commune. Along the way, the band of survivors must deal with the flesh-eating bastards that have plagued the world for over ten years. With such a low rotten tomatoes score, is Zombieland: Double Tap just an average zombie flick? Well, I don’t particularly call a great movie a disappointment. It’s very nice to see the returns of Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock, though the lack of a twinkie obsession is depressing. The opening credits of the gang shooting their way into the white house simply brought back fond memories of the fun cast of characters, and despite it being nearly ten years, the returning cast doesn’t look too much different from their 2009 counterparts.
The issue with Zombieland: Double Tap is that the sequel feels unnecessary. Ten years is a long time. During Zombieland’s time away, the popularity of the genre expanded mainly thanks to The Walking Dead, which introduced a new element into the zombie game. Over time, the show would eventually grow stale because of its lack of fresh ideas, and that’s the core issue of Zombieland: Double Tap. By no means is the sequel bad in any way. In fact, there was are several great moments throughout the film, namely Columbus and Flagstaff one-upping each other with their zombie rules, followed by the fun unbroken shot of the zombie fight between the gang and Albuquerque and Flagstaff. While the melodrama with Madison was unnecessary, Zoey Deutch‘s character was still a fun addition to the group dynamic, and the twist of making it appear that she turned into a zombie was well done. Rosario Dawson’s Nevada and Avan Jogia’s Berkeley are fun characters as well, though I do wish that we got more screen time with Nevada as her chemistry with Woody Harrelson is pretty great.
However, once the credits roll, Zombieland: Double Tap doesn’t really stick with you. While the original came out in 2009, it felt fresh and new at the time. With the introduction of the zombie rules, to the fun flashbacks to the zombie kill of the year sequences, or even the characters themselves, Zombieland managed to satisfy the gore thirsty, while also being a fun and smart horror-comedy. Here, the same beats are mostly repeated. Granted, you don’t get girl from apartment 406 returning to eat Columbus or Wichita and Little Rock trying to fool another horny gas station attendant, both the core of the ideas in the first film carry over. Admittedly, it’s fun seeing the ridiculously over-the-top “Zombie kill of the Year” with the leaning tower of Pisa, or the gang simply having fun once they get into the white house, but the film just doesn’t bring anything fresh to a genre that’s overcrowded at this point. Does a film always have to be fresh and new to be considered great? Not particularly. Take The Conjuring; The James Wan picture is a film that you’ve seen thousands of times before. What made the film feel fresh and new is the A-level of talent attached to the project and the fact that it’s simply a well-directed horror feature. It’s not the fact that Zombieland: Double Tap is another zombie movie. It’s simply the fact that it doesn’t stray too far from the original formula. I like the introduction of two new zombies, Homer and Hawking. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t do much with these new additions. They’re not the main issue for Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock, thus the new zombies feel like a waste.
Also, it never feels that the four are truly in danger. Yeah, zombies run amok throughout the 1hour and 39-minute runtime; however, Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock suffer from the unfortunate events of plot armor. None of the main characters in the film die. And no, Albuquerque and Flagstaff were not main characters. Still, these four never feel like they’re truly in danger, thus it slows down the momentum of the overall movie because the stakes aren’t high enough. There needs to be an element of unpredictability throughout these types of movies. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the four alive, but the film needs to truly push that their world is crumbling and it never feels that way. We’re not exactly plodding along with Zombieland: Double Tap because we enjoy watching these characters, but the sequel doesn’t live up to the standards that were set by the original.