One of the best movies of 2018, “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a movie that’s destined to catch on with midnight audiences, as it begs for sing alongs from an enthusiastic audience. John McPhail’s zombie horror musical is a pastiche of the best from the genres it puts on the big screen, delivering what is one of the pleasing and creepiest zombie movies of the years. “Anna and the Apocalypse” manages to be both life affirming and a spectacularly vicious zombie movie at the same time, with some of the more entertaining musical numbers and sequences filmed in a long time.
Written by Max Groah and Tim Mayo with Groah directing, Bong of the Living Dead is a fun and funny take on the zombie apocalypse and on friends with odd skills managing to do better than most. Their take on the sub-genre is one that doesn’t bring a ton of new things to the table but their vision uses things that are familiar in great ways. On a smaller scale, it reminds of Shaun of the Dead in that the filmmakers and cast have a clear love of zombies and zombie films and they bring it to the screen here in a manner that is entertaining and respectful of the films they clearly adore. The writing is clever and the direction keeps everything tight.
If any case could be made for the advantage of running zombies in the zombie film sub-genre, “Dead Set” would easily trump any argument against the device. I’m a zombie enthusiast who loves the lumbering dead, and in all honesty prefers them above all. “Dead Set” not only endorses the idea of running zombies, but makes turns them on to a world of lazy, complacent television addicts, with remorseless fervor. Like the reality shows that have become fixtures of civilization, we’re turned in to blood thirsty monsters that feed off of one another, and show little empathy for the weak.
“Fear The Walking Dead” is to “The Walking Dead” what “Law & Order: SVU” is to “Law & Order.” It’s another series in the same universe but with its own scenarios and characters. It’s unfortunately taken three years to find its footing, despite its very good ratings. It packed with it a great cast of Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Ruben Blades, as well as a ton of diverse side characters, but still never quite took off as a strong tale about the apocalypse. Now with its soft reboot and a new cast the series is better than ever, in spite of the audience kind of dropping it by the wayside. Regardless, season four was a huge step up for “Fear the Walking Dead” and I hope season five continues down this path with an even better, stronger villain.
Some horror movie premises are just ripe for comedy gold. Cockneys vs. Zombies, strippers vs. zombies, Brits vs. Zombies, et al, but “Ahockalypse” which pits hockey players against a zombie apocalypse is a swing and a miss. It’s not a complete miss overall, but in the end there was just so much that could have been done with the premise. The hockey themed horror comedy’s lack of budget is one of the elements that hinder an otherwise clever idea, as well as a clear lack of tonal consistency through and through.
Zombie movies have become the superhero movies of modern age where not a lot of people think there can be much original material to mined from it anymore. This year has proven those skeptics wrong with the haunting “Cargo,” and the incredibly complex “The Night Eats The World.” A healthy mix of “I Am Legend,” “Dawn of the Dead,” and “Castaway,” it’s ten minutes too long, but manages to come out in the end as a scary zombie movie with insight about the horrifying world that can linger outside of our doors.
It’s a tough task to take a short film and stretch it in to a feature length adaptation worthy of the original concept. Often it can fail and other times if we’re lucky, we can end up with something pretty special. Thankfully “Cargo” falls in to the latter category, as it’s a touching, heartbreaking and eerie tale, about finding hope when all hope is lost. The original Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling short film “Cargo” is one of my favorite independent short films of all time, and the team of Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling thankfully keep in touch with the original short’s idea of a dad trying to give his daughter a second chance in a horrible world, while also expanding on the premise.