We have some thoughts on where the sequel to the quintessential modern-day zom-com should go.
The zombie comedy is the perfect segue into watching horror movies, especially if you’re not accustomed to going for such a potentially gory genre. I grew up in a family who detests and still refuses to watch scary movies by default, and it was much easier to develop my own taste for horror by having the zom-com middle ground to tread on. In being both gross and funny, zom-coms are the best of both worlds where, if done right, humor cuts through the frightful tension and horror keeps the stakes of the narrative high.
Zombieland is a great example of a zom-com done right. Following four maladjusted individuals who head west through a zombie-infested United States, the film ploughs through various motifs and tropes of the zombie subgenre and Americana as a whole and does so with a darkly funny edge. Its characters are the focal point in this journey. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are a found family simply searching for a better life in a land of the undead.
With such a tight yet character-driven premise, Zombieland is actually ripe for a sequel, and back in 2016, Sony had seemed to answer that call. A logo reveal at CinemaCon signaled that a follow-up film was finally in the works, although word about it since then has been scarce.
The original Zombieland team – comprised of the cast, director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick – are seemingly still onboard for a sequel, though. Speaking to Vulture, Reese and Wernick updated fans on the prospects for Zombieland 2. Details remain thin for the time being, but the follow-up will apparently shoot early in 2019 to be ready for an October release that same year, just in time for the original’s 10-year anniversary. Wernick states:
“We are sitting on information that we can’t entirely share at this moment… but we can just say we think fans of ‘Zombieland’ who have been hoping for a ‘Zombieland 2,’ that we will grant their wish very, very soon.”
Immediately, I’m left wondering exactly where a sequel to Zombieland should go next. Firstly, there’s the timeline to consider. The cast is obviously much older now, and having them reprise their roles would mean fast-forwarding the story a few years after the events of the first film, but that could work in the film’s favor. Let Zombieland 2 unveil some new revelations about the time after the world has ended. Maybe in the intervening years, we can also ask: are Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock truly the only people left or might the country have been able to rebuild to some extent?
A Quiet Place definitely caused my expectations of horror movie world-building to skyrocket, but the idea of carrying on — even in utterly hopeless situations — would be a cool thing for Zombieland 2 to explore. It’s certainly preferable to the nihilistic “we’re all fucked” attitude of something like The Walking Dead. The first Zombieland depicts how four vastly different people with basically nothing to lose find each other and regain a smattering of hope in their humanity, and we need more of that dynamic in the sequel. Knowing how any family moves on and manages to sustain a lifestyle in a brave new world is what makes post-apocalyptic stories count, more often than not.
The cast remains a real draw, too, because all four actors have such palpable chemistry with one another. I can already particularly see more Tallahassee zingers and hijinks; Harrelson in his snarky element is always a plus. Stone is comedy gold as well. But beyond making the jokes sail, the actors lend so much weight to the film’s emotional beats, creating a believable portrait of a dysfunctional but appealing family.
Yet one of the best things about Zombieland is how romantic love is a believable possibility. That’s all down to Eisenberg and Stone. Unbeknownst to us in a time before The Social Network and La La Land, Zombieland drew together two powerhouses who managed to legit sell a budding end-of-the-world love story. There’s so much hope in their relationship, and I actually want to see more of it in the next movie (without them splitting up or anyone dying, please.).
Considering Reese and Wernick’s busy schedule these days, it’s unsurprising that they’ve taken this long to even begin talking about Zombieland 2. They have become rather sought-after scribes and producers in Hollywood, landing a myriad of gigs including the Deadpool sequel, Michael Bay’s Six Underground, Ryan Reynolds’s Clue remake, a new Chris Pratt vehicle called Cowboy Ninja Viking, and the YouTube Red original series Wayne. Nevertheless, in taking their time to craft Zombieland 2, they may just deliver a sequel that’s well worth the wait.