Zombieland - THE REVIEW

Until I saw Zombieland, the winner of the Best Cameo award for '09 was a shoe-in: Mike Tyson in The Hangover.

My mind has now been changed.

I'm not gonna ruin things by telling you which star now holds that title but suffice to say, as with everything in Zombieland, it's a perfect moment.

For this is a film with everything. Yes, it's first and foremost a horror flick, telling the tale of a handful of survivors after 99.9% of Americans have been turned into the undead. But it's a gorefest with so many nods to comedies, road movies, romances and teen pics that actual scares are less important than knowing winks, great lines and loveable characters.

And there are plenty. Jesse Eisenberg's nerdy Columbus - surely the only horror movie hero with Irritable Bowel Syndrome - is joyously understated, providing the perfect foil for his macho co-hort Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). If I'm pushed, it's Woody's picture, swaggering around as he does with his cowboy boots and sawn-off shotgun. He fills the screen with redneck attitude, a Tarantino/Rodriguez kinda guy with an odd love of the banjo. As Columbus puts it so poetically: 'He sets the standard for not to be fucked with'.

Meantime, the female stars Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who the boys meet en-route to a Californian safe-haven, are certainly no wallflowers. Stone is sexy for sure but it's never overplayed - quite refreshing for a teen slasher pic.

Most of all though, Zombieland works because it knows exactly what it wants to say, how it wants to say it and who the movie is for. With unerring energy it's a Shaun Of The Dead USA; ballsy, bloody and in-yer-face (witness the slo-mo opening credits, with Metallica on soundtrack duties) and with a use of locations from supermarkets to theme parks that kicks ass. The peppering of pop culture gags are spot-on and emotional moments are crucial but not over-played. In short, it's a slamdunk.

And then there's that mystery cameo, a scene or two of pure movie genius. Now, who's gonna tell Mike Tyson that he's lost his crown. You or me?