The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 13, 2020 1:00 am

Disney Channel shows softer side of zombies

Jay Bobbin | Zap2it

Beware: Zombies are coming again.

Actually, they're friendlier – and much more musical – members of the undead than typically are expected, since “Zombies 2” is a Disney Channel sequel to an earlier movie. With a romantic undercurrent well-suited for its Valentine's Day premiere Friday, the tale reunites “American Housewife” co-star Meg Donnelly and “Dancing With the Stars” alum Milo Manheim (the son of “Stumptown's” Camryn Manheim) as a cheerleader and a zombie athlete who anticipate attending their high school's big prom together.

There's just one problem: the sudden arrival of werewolves seeking an ancient life source. Addison (Donnelly) thinks she might have a place with them, while Zed (Manheim) focuses on his bid for school president, since a win would let him change rules meant to keep zombies and cheerleaders apart. Trevor Tordjman, Kylee Russell, Carla Jeffery, James Godfrey and Kingston Foster also reprise their roles from the first film, whose writers (David Light and Joseph Raso) and director (Paul Hoen) also return.

“The first (movie) was such a fun experience, but we had no idea what to expect because it was such a new concept,” the friendly Donnelly reflects.

Donnelly appreciates what the movie franchise is doing for the image of zombies, particularly among younger viewers: “Society thinks they're super-scary and supernatural in a terrifying way, but once you get to know them, you realize that they're not so bad and they're just like us.” The “Zombies” films also encompass what Donnelly deems “typical teenage challenges, like with relationships and finding out who you want to be after high school. This one is bigger and better than the first movie, I think, and way more mature. And the dance numbers are way bigger, too.”

“Zombies 2” debuts when Donnelly is placing more focus on her music overall. Having recently released her debut album “Trust,” she's about to begin a tour that will coincide with her move as “American Housewife's” Taylor into the soon-ending “Modern Family's” Wednesday ABC slot in April.

“Any free time I have, I am working on music,” Donnelly confirms. “It's like another little piece of myself is out there now, because your music is all your own. I grew up as a theater kid, so live performing is something I love to do ... but when it's your own music, that's crazy. It's going to be a trip.”

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