It opens up with a sideways camera angle which makes the audience immediately think “What’s going on?” and also disorientating the audience making them immediately more intrigued as this is new and unconventional because usually, films are captured at an upright angle. We get a close-up shot of an American flag so we know that the film will be set somewhere in America. A narrative voice is also introduced who says: “Oh, America! I wish I could tell you that this was still America. But I’ve come to realize you can’t have a country without people.” The tone of the speaker suggests that he is the central character and because he’s speaking to the audience directly, he makes us more involved with what’s happening on-screen – this is emphasized more so by the way the film is being shot as if by a handheld video camera. It’s effective because it’s more amateurish and creates the idea that the audience is participating rather than observing.
We get a sense of chaos and destruction in these first few seconds as there is a constant flicker of static which is a great effect to make it seem like the film of the camera has been damaged. We are shown The Capital Hill building with smoke emanating from it, cars alight and abandoned as there is the constant sound of car alarms sounding as well as guns on the ground. From this, the audience already knows that something is wrong because it’s set in a city where life is usually more civilised and constructed, whereas now it’s being presented as chaos and anarchy.
The person holding the camera is still filming but running backwards. It’s very well done in that it captures the aggression and persistence of the “zombie”. Without the input of the speaker, this would be quite sinister to the audience. However, the speaker says: “No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland.” The casual introduction of the “zombie” is quite comical and ironic, and comes across as really casual suggesting that either the narration is from a later point of view where the narrator is used to this chaos or that the narrator doesn’t care. Having seen the film, I know that he’s speaking as if he’s used to it as he is but anyone who hadn’t seen the film would think of those two possibilities. There is a final close-up shot (a parallel to the close-up shot at the beginning) of the “zombie” picking at its teeth as if it were using a toothpick at the dinner table. This suggests to the audience there will be violence and gore in the film but it will be humorous. To further this element of humour in the title sequence, a list of random rules being said by the narrator appear on screen which engages the audience as they feel they’re being prepared for this world of anarchy and the fact the narrator has rules makes the audience wonder how long the world has been like this for someone to make a list of rules on how to survive.