Ten years prior to the release of the perfectly named Double Tap, I stood in the school hallway, telling some friends that my mum had rented “some zombie DVD” for us to watch that night. The result was a entertaining, quirky, and violent comedy that even after multiple viewings still makes me laugh. Yet never once did I wonder on the possibilities of a sequel, let alone one that come ten years after later. Yet here we are with the full returning cast, with the biggest task of translating the comedy of 2009 to 2019.
First and foremost, Double Tap is a fun film. Most that enjoyed the original as much as I did, will likely still enjoy this. The principle cast of Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson are all a joy to watch together, especially considering the films they proceeded to work on post-Zombieland. Double Tap is just as irreverent and ridiculous in parts as its predecessor, yet how it manages to differ is its handling of the zombies themselves.
In the first film, the zombies, while still a threat, were the devices of the its gory comedy. Harrelson’s Tallahassee would often make a show of killing a single zombie, to immediately throw away the weapon he had only used once. While it is a far cry away from being grounded, the introduction of a newer and better zombie in Double Tap, results in the absence in a lot of the ludicrous kills. What this does introduce however, are actions scenes that mix comedy with intensity – something that was never really present in the first film.
When the gang are faced with a missing member, they are forced back out on the road after a long hiatus in hiding. The story is relatively simple, but it has a lot more heart than the original with a focus on the rag-tag family made through the circumstance of the apocalypse. While it doesn’t have the same flow as the previous, the use an episodic-styled structure as they move from one setting to the next (each with their own series of jokes) keeps things interesting, and more importantly, consistently funny.
Earlier in the review, I mentioned the translation of comedy from 2009 to 2019. This is based on the constant urge many modern films feel to make statements or jabs at contemporary issues, particularly in the era of Trump and #MeToo. While there are ways to discuss such issues, most do so for cheap laughs. Double Tap seems perfectly contempt to steers itself clear and keep making dick jokes and Elvis gags. It was refreshing to be able to shut off my brain for an hour and a half and laugh at the zombie kills of the week. My one complaint, yet something that seemed unavoidable, is the films over reliance in jokes in reference to the previous film. This was inevitable, but at times it felt that these took precedent over original content.
Zombieland: Double Tap isn’t the sequel I wasn’t expecting to see at any point, nor the one I believe anyone really needed. I believe someone thought we did however, as Double Tap was the same kind of fun I remembered having when I was thirteen-years old. It manages my expectations of an old favourite, whilst adding new context to the gang of characters. Although it isn’t the breath of fresh air that the first felt, I came out the cinema with a smile on my face having had a good time. Not bad for a sequel no one asked for.