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Stars: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray

Director: Ruben Fleischer

This is pretty well everything a zombie-horror should be, and funnier than Shaun of the Dead to boot. The granite-chinned Harrelson gets his best role in ages as a multi-weapon-wielding, snakeskin-jacketed badass surviving in a world overrun by zombies, after another of those pesky plagues sweeps the world. Zombie flu perhaps.

Nerd Eisenberg is also on the run, after giving shelter to a terrified girl (Amber Heard) who promptly turns into a zombie. 'The first time I let a girl in my life,' Eisenberg complains, 'and she tries to eat me.' Banding together, the misfits are joined by two con girls, Wichita (Emma Stone), who professes to be 20, although making mysterious references to 1997, and her younger sister Little Rock (Breslin). The girls trick them and steal their car before reluctantly becoming their companions when the guys turn the tables.

Single-minded in his pursuit of any surviving Twinkie (a kind of butter-cake), Harrelson leads them to the Hollywood mansion of Murray, to no avail. 'No Twinkies,' declares Breslin. 'I told you we should have gone to Russell Crowe's.' (Is this a crack at Crowe's weight?). Murray, however, turns out to be very much alive, and an amiable host before he pretends to be a zombie and Eisenberg shoots him. 'Any regrets?' asks Harrelson. 'No,' replies the dying star. 'Well, maybe Garfield.'

Well, the girls take off to the Palisades Park funfair which is swarming with zombies for the film's climax. Often funny, and sometimes exciting, this gets the comedy-horror formula just about right. It's fast and furious, with lots of zombie kills and laconic lines, and keeps you guessing as to whether any or all of all of its travelling slayers will emerge unscathed at the end.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Oct 2009