Released: 18th April
Seen: 20th April
You know, I’ve tackled a fair few streaming networks over the years. I’ve dealt with Netflix originals, Stan originals and Shudder originals but I’ve somehow managed to avoid Disney Plus originals because none of them really leapt out at me. I almost watched that Lady and the Tramp remake but… well, I suffered through three Disney Remakes in one year, I’m allowed to skip one of them. There are a few original films on there but I figured they weren’t going to be that important for me to need to look through… and then the world decided to malfunction and every cinema closed, so I may as well throw the Disney Plus originals into my diet because why the hell not?
Naturally, the first film that would catch my eye is one that could be described in three words… Disney Zombie Musical. Is there any phrase more magically horrible? Is there any phrase that fills you with more delight and dread? I won’t even deny that when I first heard about a Disney Zombie Musical I was hyped because it sounded like my exact kind of cheese and sure enough when I watched Z-O-M-B-I-E-S it was exactly what I thought it was going to be, a hyper-energetic Disney TV movie filled with bright colours and energetic-yet-forgettable musical numbers performed by a bunch of teens looking for their big break who overact everything. Basically, it’s art and I enjoyed it for exactly what it was trying to be. Today though, we’re going to talk about the sequel which is the same as the first movie while also not being quite as good as that.
Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2 takes place shortly after the end of the first movie with the town properly integrated with Zombies and humans living together in relative harmony. Zombies get to go to school and enjoy everything that the humans enjoy, all while occasionally breaking into heavily autotuned songs that have lyrics no one can recite. Of course, everything can’t remain perfect forever and since we have Zombies and Humans it’s natural that a pack of Werewolves turns up to come and find a magical stone that’s somewhere in the town. Since a new bunch of supernatural creatures have turned up, every human turns into a super-bigot again and reinstate all the old anti-monster laws that hold Zombies down so the Zombies can’t go to prom… and then there’s a bunch of stuff with the two leads dealing with their relationship and a ton of Cheerleading jokes.
Look, no one is really expecting a Disney original TV movie to be anything special. They hit their peak with Hocus Pocus in the 90s and everyone knows they will never be that good again, but Z-O-M-B-I-E-S is still better than it has any real right to be, with its fourth wall breaking overacting and use of bright contrasting colours. It’s silly and it knows it, it embraces that and when done right, an over-the-top-fourth-wall-breaking-candy-coloured-G-rated-Zombie-musical can be a lot of fun… here’s the catch, the first movie in this series had a simple story, one we’ve seen a lot before. It was Hairspray, but with Zombies. The sequel is just a little more complicated than a Disney Original can be.
This film throws SO many storylines at the wall in a desperate attempt to see what sticks. There’s the storyline about the election between the lead Zombie and lead Cheerleader, there’s the storyline about the werewolves, the storyline about the main girl finding out why she has a horribly white wig that she’s trying to present as her horrible white hair, the storyline about the zombie racism, the storyline about the side characters weird relationship, the plotline about the child zombies attempt to open a lemonade stand, the potential romantic triangle between the main girl the main zombie and a werewolf and the plotline about the destruction of a local landmark of serious importance. I only made one of those up and I’m sure I missed one. It feels like they were working on a TV series and had a bunch of episode ideas and instead of getting everyone to sign on for a limited Zombie Musical series, they made a sequel and did a little bit of everything which made the movie feel overdone.
When the style and the story are both throwing EVERYTHING at you it just stops working as well as it could. Pick one of these stories, literally any one of these stories is its own movie. The entire film could’ve just been the election between the zombies and the cheerleader and that would’ve been a whole lot better. This isn’t to say that it’s bad, it’s just unfocused and tries to be more than it needs to be. It’s a silly zombie musical with cheerleaders, this doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2 is fine. It has a good cast that are working their hardest to give the audience a good time and music that just goes straight through you. It’s not memorable like it should be, the first movie has so much more fun with this idea and this one just feels like they forced it out when the first one was a surprise ratings hit. It’s not even bad, it’s cheesy but it’s not bad. It hangs there in the dead centre between its potential and the worst. It’s just… it’s fine, it is absolutely fine. Go watch the first one in the series, but this one is… eh, it’s fine.