Much like Scream calls out and subverts slasher movie tropes, Zombieland plays on fan expectations and the formula surrounding zombie movies.
the Scream The franchise has always been a movie series that stands out for its sense of self-awareness regarding horror movie history and stereotypical tropes — especially slasher movies. From the prologue of the original 1996 film, ScreamThe characters in have direct reference to classic slasher movies while hints and more subtle horror movie survival rules help the characters stay one step ahead of the murderous killers in Ghostface. And like new Scream the film scares audiences in theaters around the world, the popular zombieland the films similarly play on expectations in the zombie horror subgenre to successful effect.
the zombieland the films are set in a world that has been completely overrun by hordes of ravenous undead within months, with small groups of survivors traversing the post-apocalyptic United States while learning to bond together as surrogate family . To survive, the protagonists established a set of survival rules; advice on how to properly dispose of zombies that cross their path and endure the daily grind of life in a world where modern society has completely crumbled. These range from double tapping zombies in the head with two shots to make sure they’re really destroyed or something as mundane as regularly wearing clean socks. The first one zombieland the movie has 33 rules while the number was increased to 73 by the events of its sequel, Zombieland: double tap.
Although it is not as clearly stated as zombieland, the Scream the movies have their own set of rules that survivors use to escape Ghostface based on their knowledge of classic slasher movies. The characters warn never to say “they’ll be back” and to jinx their own fate or do drugs in keeping with slasher movie tropes often targeting stoner characters first. Perhaps more particularly, Scream Protagonist Sidney Prescott is aware that serial killers often resurface for a final scare at the end of a slasher movie and ensures that this doesn’t happen by usually punctuating a Scream movie by shooting Ghostface into their unprotected heads.
An important distinction, of course, is that even though zombieland often plays his well-worn zombie tropes and laugh-out-loud formula, with a nod to the audience, the Scream the movies are shameless horror movies. There are comic nuances to Scream, with its characters often possessing a wry sense of humor about the serial killer threatening their friends and neighbors, but the films themselves heighten the tension and provide gory thrills in their entirety. Conversely, zombieland has some scary moments and the gore that’s standard in zombie movies, but ultimately, they’re comedic movies; this self-awareness about surviving a zombie apocalypse serves as a running gag throughout both films.
Both Scream and zombieland are prime examples of the horror genre embracing a sense of postmodernism, conscious of the genre’s legacy and established formula while playing on the associated expectation to delight and entertain audiences. Scream has reached a point where it can play to its franchise formula, now owning its own mythos and celebrated as a trademark in the slasher subgenre.
On the other hand, zombieland currently only has two movies, but with interest in a potential third installment in the zombie comedy franchise, perhaps zombieland can rely on its conscious rules, bend and break them to keep the ongoing story fresh and become the subject of its own parody.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Scream is in theaters now.
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