A zombie plague has transformed the world into a cannibalistic hellscape. Into a small Texas town steps a skinny, quivering nebbish with a shotgun: "I know it looks like zombies destroyed it, but that's just Garland," he tells us via nerdy narration. "I may be an unlikely survivor, with all my phobias and my irritable-bowel syndrome. . . . "
But he has survived, in large part because of his adherence to such rules as "Double tap" (make sure that undead thing is really dead), "Don't be a hero" and "Beware of bathrooms." This wayward college student soon to be nicknamed Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) eventually hooks up with other survivors on a cross-country trek to a Disneyland-like amusement park that promises to be monster-free, stopping along the way in an even more mythical place: Beverly Hills.
Clearly, the horror-comedy "Zombieland" is not your average gore-nucopia. There are plenty of exploding heads, sure, but while there are a number of gross-outs and jolts in it, "Zombieland" is mostly about character-based laughs.
Eisenberg ("The Squid and the Whale") does his wimpy shtick -- imagine a young Woody Allen fumbling for a shotgun and blowing ghoulish heads off. Emma Stone ("The House Bunny") is saucy as a hard-bitten survivor, and Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") is killer-cute as her rifle-toting little sister. Even the ubiquitous Amber Heard shows up (and doubtless has more fun here than in the creatively zombified "The Informers"), and there's an excellent surprise appearance that makes up for a long mayhem-less stretch.