The Zombieland: Double Tap trailer absolutely contains a loving reference to Shaun of the Dead. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, the original 2009 Zombieland won over audiences with smart humor, strong character chemistry and a masterful appearance from Bill Murray. With Zombieland bolstering the careers of its younger trio, however, a decade would pass before a follow-up arrived.
The first trailer for Zombieland: Double Tap has now been unveiled ahead of the film's October 2019 release, reintroducing an older original cast, who are now hardened survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Unlike the first film, the trailer strongly suggests that Zombieland 2 will feature new groups of survivors, highlighting a host of fresh faces, some friendly, some not so friendly.
In the trailer's final moments, Tallahassee, Columbus and Wichita come across a duo that are ridiculous, exaggerated mirror versions of themselves. The audience sees Luke Wilson's character - a copycat version of Harrelson's Tallahassee - and Thomas Middleditch, who plays a figure with the same geeky awkwardness as Columbus.
This scene is surely a direct tribute to fellow rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy), Shaun of the Dead. Released in 2004 and introducing the world to Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead is arguably the progenitor to Zombieland, wrapping comedy and zombies around a touching love story. One of the film's best motifs sees Simon Pegg's Shaun repeatedly encounter Jessica Hynes' Yvonne, and when the groups led by these two characters meet, each person bears an uncanny resemblance to a member of the opposing group.
Shaun and Yvonne are both leaders that have brought their moms along, Martin Freeman plays counterpart to Shaun's girlfriend Liz, Dylan Moran and Reece Shearsmith are the cowardly weaklings, Lucy Davis and Tamsin Grieg play the overly-cheerful performing arts types and Matt Lucas is a clone of Frost's character. The scene is perhaps intended as a humorous commentary on stock horror movie characters that conform to general personality stereotypes.
With Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland both occupying the same niche zombie sub-genre, it's surely no coincidence that Zombieland: Double Tap is borrowing this trope of apocalypse survivors meeting characters with near-identical traits and appearances. The trope is too wacky and subversive to not have been an intentional, knowing nod to Shaun of the Dead. That isn't to say that Zombieland 2 is derivative, but more likely is paying homage to a film generally considered as a classic in both the comedy and zombie arenas and furthering the satire that Edgar Wright began.
It remains to be seen exactly how Wilson and Middleditch will be used in Zombieland: Double Tap, but it'll be especially interesting if the movies use the same recurring character pattern as Shaun of the Dead, as this would certainly expel any thoughts that the crossover might've been coincidental. In the context of the full movie, of course, Zombieland 2's Shaun of the Dead homage may feel a little more original. Purely from the trailer footage, however, it appears that Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick owe Edgar Wright a drink.
- Zombieland: Double Tap/Zombieland 2 (2019) release date: Oct 18, 2019