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ZOMBIELAND – David Sardy

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A raucous comedy-horror with a significant splatter factor, Zombieland stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin as the four human survivors of an apocalypse in which a Mad Cow-like disease has turned the majority of the world’s population into flesh-eating zombies. As the four brave heroes track across America, only their resourcefulness and their improvised weaponry stand between them and their being eaten by the walking undead… and hilarity ensues.

The film, which has been called the American answer to Shaun of the Dead, is directed by Ruben Fleischer, and has an original score by composer and former record producer David Sardy, who first came to prominence with his Vegas jazz score for the film 21 in 2008. The score starts with an ear-splitting electric guitar rendition of the Star Spangled Banner overlaid with various electronic stingers; from this bizarre beginning, the score develops into a rather unconventional electro-rock horror score in which electric guitars and beds of synthesizers compete with sampled sound effects and the smallest hint of an orchestra in an effort to build the most peculiar cacophony imaginable.

There is no real melody or thematic presence, just a set of seemingly unconnected vignettes that add a new level of disturbia to the already wacked-out movie. I actually really dislike this kind of scoring, which relies solely on ambience and texture to generate its atmosphere. Sardy’s not a composer, he’s a record producer with a very expensive set of keyboards, and it shows. Cues such as “Cardio”, “406”, “Carpush Manwich” and “Zombie in the House” are nothing more than disjointed explosions of noise, while others – such as “The Standoff”, “Escalade Sting”, “Smash the Van” – are little more than extended rock song intros, with no musical sophistication whatsoever.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the score actually tried to be something other than another layer of sound effects, but the lack of ambition shown by Sardy and his director is, unfortunately, indicative of a more worrying trend in the film music world at large. It’s all quite dispiriting, really, and one which most score fans would do well to avoid.

Rating: *

Track Listing:

  • Opening (2:51)
  • Cardio (2:29)
  • The Standoff (1:29)
  • Escalade Sting (0:35)
  • Hostess Truck (0:28)
  • 406 (2:10)
  • Carpush Manwich (1:41)
  • Grocery Store (2:09)
  • Marriagable (2:46)
  • Girls Abandon Guys (1:01)
  • Smash the Van (0:28)
  • Walk ‘n Talk (1:04)
  • The Yellow Hummer (0:31)
  • Clown Dump (0:41)
  • H3LP (1:33)
  • Gas ‘n Gulp (2:05)
  • The Quiet Game (1:09)
  • Zombie Kill of the Week (0:12)
  • Zombie Kimosabe (0:54)
  • Searching the Murray House (1:03)
  • Zombie in the House (0:59)
  • Monopoly (1:06)
  • Pacific Playland, Pt. 1 (2:52)
  • Pacific Playland, Pt. 2 (2:02)
  • Columbus Alone (0:30)
  • Pacific Playland, Pt. 3 (2:03)
  • Pacific Playland, Pt. 4 (4:30)
  • Estasi Dell Anima (1:54)
  • Clown (1:30)
  • Rat Scare (0:37)
  • As Close As I’ll Ever Get To Home (0:56)

Running Time: 46 minutes 18 seconds

Relativity Records RMG 1004-1 (2009)

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