I'm not keen on horror flicks either, but Zombieland stars Woody Harrelson and, being a quasi-fan, I usually enjoy his stuff. At least for this one, I was curious. That, plus, critics gave the movie 3 stars. I assumed that was out of a possible 5 (not 10). They also praised it for the humor so successfully infused therein.
So off I went for the 11:00 a.m. showing at the neighborhood mega-screen theater. One of things I really enjoy about going to an early matinee is the crowd, i.e., there is none! I eschew crowds in movie theaters at night and weekends. That's because it's kinda like being in a mob of zombies and with a new virulent strain of flu this season, I confess, I have this fear my convictions may be reinforced, engulfing me in a Howard Hughes irrationality before year’s end.
One can go to a brew pub knowing s/he will be among others who enjoy good ales and conversation. But going to a movie, particularly a zombie horror movie, one is exposing themselves to a far wider range of the public which can be at once interesting, strange, and sometimes scary -- especially being in the dark together! That point was especially driven home to me this past summer while attending local town hall meetings on health care reform with our congressman and local teabaggers. (Fortunately they left the lights on!)
But Friday it was just me and two other people. They arrived after me and I confess I was a bit disappointed, hoping for a few minutes I was in for my own private showing. But no problem, had this been an airplane, I could have rented a blanket and folded up the armrests. "Isn't there some way I could take up two, maybe three seats?" was my exact opposite reaction to attending a Saturday night movie in a crowd.
"ZOMBIELAND" AS MOVIE
The humor the critics had enjoyed was absent. I surmised that was because the crowd was too. Some things are just funnier with more people. When there's a crowd, the one with the lowest threshold for humor can jump start an otherwise deadpan audience by laughing. Laughter then spreads throughout much of the audience like a virulent swine flu. (Sorry, bad analogy.)
I did enjoy Woody Harrelson. And I liked the effects which, however, grew more tedious over time. (How many different ways are there to kill a zombie, each gorier than the last?) When I arrived home, Mrs. Dada was anxiously awaiting my "review." I gave her a brief report on what I had seen, told her I was glad she saved her money and a couple hours of her remaining life for something better to do. And then in my summation I said a curious thing: "But I think Zombieland was a metaphor for something else." That being the part I probably enjoyed most about the dismal movie. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, being very bad at metaphors as I am. I left it at that.
A CURIOUS THING HAPPENS (ER, MAKE THAT TWO CURIOUS THINGS)
Then today, two curious things happened. I was reading James Howard Kunstler's weekly rant over on Clusterfuck Nation. He entitled it Marching Toward Zombieland. Fresh from the movie, I read it with particular interest. I was hoping to find the metaphor buried 'neath the movie.
I enjoyed Kunstler's article, with particular trepidation for the audacious bankers and Wall Streeters who he says will be pressing their luck with their next round of blatant blood sucking billions of dollars in bonuses come Christmastime in the face of a well armed America. He concluded with the warning,”Watch out, Lloyd Blankfein! Woody is on his way....” (Lloyd Blankfein being CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs and “Woody” being the movie’s zombie slayer par excellence).
Kunstler’s zombie analogy was intriguing. But when I read Cindy Sheehan's post on my Facebook page entitled "He was the 'perfect infantryman'" (a link to the article she highlighted, not her Facebook page), things began to get a little strange. Suddenly Zombieland as metaphor was beginning to crystalize and horror movies as manifestations of a society’s attempt to cope validated. It was about a veteran soldier, Jacob W. Sexton, who had served in Iraq and was home on leave from his current Afghanistan tour with his family in Muncie, Indiana.
Monday, Jacob went to a local theater with two of his brothers. Tragically, in the middle of the movie they were viewing, Jacob used a gun and killed himself. The movie he and his brothers were watching? Zombieland!
Hopefully I’ll have more to say about Zombieland as a metaphor next time, after the idea has had a little time to set up (ala plaster drying).
(Dada note: Rather than a separate follow-up on this blog, I have posted my final thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.)