Zombies (stylized Z-O-M-B-I-E-S like a pep cheer) is an utterly bizarre, big-budget (for TV) romantic musical about humans and zombies co-mingling, set in a garish, pastel-colored parody of high school.
There is a lot to unpack in this film. I won’t go too far down the rabbit hole in this review, but my main reaction is bewilderment… it’s a strange movie.
For starters, the racism parable of humans vs. zombies is so insipid that I choose to believe it is in fact a satire of stupid race-themed middlebrow movies. Its gonzo, tone-deaf metaphors frequently end up hilarious. (Then again, it plays the conclusion pretty straight, so the stupidity might not, in fact, be tongue-in-cheek. I pray that I’m wrong.)
The movie’s color scheme is fascinating and ugly, and I kind of love it. The “zombies” are all basically Jack Nicholson’s Joker — pale skin, green hair, and purple/dark green garments. Meanwhile, the high school and human neighborhood are all hyper-saturated coral and mint green, seemingly inspired by the pastel-tinted German expressionistic utopia/dystopia of Edward Scissorhands. The set design is suitably weird, too, though I wish they had gone full postmodern Caligari unhinged.
The soundtrack is full of pop and hip-hop earworms, which is not to say the songs are good. I could see myself relistening to a few of these a few times, but none will likely ever enter my regular rotation. But the “Someday” scene is probably the most charming of the movie, warm and well-directed and -choreographed.
And I mostly liked the cast! The leads have suitable chemistry and on-screen charm, and their sidekicks are solid too. I just wish the Shia LaBeouf -looking villain did a little bit more to differentiate himself.
Overall, I recommend it only for those with a taste for both teenybopper musicals and lightweight weirdness, but I will admit I had a decent, “WTF”-fueled time watching.
Nearly Good (4/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.