Leave it to Disney to find a way to bring Zombies into the realm of teen romance and musical production. The third installment of the Zombies franchise is only days old (released on Disney+ on July 15th) and it’s popularity is already on par with Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018) and Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2 (2020). As one of the biggest and most anticipated films of the streaming service’s summer releases, the return of a winning line-up that includes director Paul Hoen and lead actors Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly is augmented by dazzling new faces such as Lily MacMenemey. In addition to being one of the featured dancers in the “Alien Invasion” music video from the film, Lily can be seen in a number of other Disney productions that include Sneakerella, and Spin. It seems hard to watch any movie with dance on Disney+ without seeing Ms. MacMenemey’s impressive skills; Zombies 3 is simply the most recent. Dance is popular with an adult and youth audience and as long as there is the desire for these two groups to be able to watch films appropriate for both, productions like Zombies 3 will be made. Just as benevolently, this will support the work of incredibly talented dancers like Lily and those who took part with her on this film. If you’re looking for edgy, this probably isn’t your cup of tea but if it’s mesmerizing skill partnered with a family-friendly storyline, you should put Zombies 3 in your cue immediately.
The zombie/human love story between Zed and Addison is not lacking in its social commentary, an updated yet evergreen topic it seems. The use of high school football and cheerleading is a clever and relatable twist but honestly, it’s the singing and dancing that makes the Zombies franchise so entertaining and enticing to a wide demographic. The only way for this third installment of the trilogy to go somewhere new was to bring those “not of Earth” to Seabrook and illustrate once again how our own fears lead us to make assumptions about others. There’s a foundational lesson to be learned through this story that’s presented in catchy and upbeat dressings. The highlight of these films has always been the musical performances and Zombies 3 sets the bar high with the first musical number “Alien Invasion.” Lily MacMenemey is front and center when the aliens are first beamed down to Earth during this highlight of the films first act. The “Alien Invasion” music video that was released prior to the film attained more than a million views in its first three days online. In the film, a UFO descends as the teens of Seabrook are rapping and singing. There’s an intersect of pop music and the Disney style melded with a Broadway sensibility as aliens are “popping and locking” in the most elegant of ways. The visual style embraces practical scenery but augments it with some very slick VFX moments. Lily was brought aboard early in the creative stages of the film by its dance choreographer, Primetime Emmy Nominee Dondraico Johnson. Ms. MacMenemey relates, “I was selected by Draico to come into the beginning stages of the creation process for Zombies 3 around April 2021. The small group of us selected to join skeleton crew got to be a part of the very first drafts of choreography. It was exciting to be part of those raw stages and watch the movie come together as more dancers were cast. We continued rehearsals all the way to the end of May 2021. Filming started in June and were lucky enough to shoot in multiple locations all over Toronto and surrounding areas. It was three amazing months of filming and a great experience working so closely with Draico! He would often consult me when it came to specific pieces where he wanted to utilize styles that I specialize in such as, Popping, Krump, and Animation.”
Zombies 3 is one of the films keeping a specific type of entertainment in the eyeline of new generations who will become supportive fans of this genre as well and its live counterpart. Just as importantly, it bears witness to talented dancers like Lily MacMenemey who has mastered a modern style. Old and young viewers alike will come to know the many talented professionals who are seen in this film and become inspired to investigate what it feels like to express themselves in dance, acting, and song. Lily comprehends this but chooses to focus on the more immediate resonation of the film stating, “I loved watching the film with my friends and castmates. Fans of the series were excited about its release and it felt good to be a part of that. One of my first dance teachers told me that her young daughter asked to go to camp a week later so that she could be home with her friends to watch the release of Zombies 3. Of course, it was filmed in our beautiful Toronto which makes me feel warm and proud.”
Zombies 3 is available on Disney+ now.
Writer: Arlen Gann