Directed By: Wayne Harry Johnson Jr.
Written By: Wayne Harry Johnson Jr., Craig Patrick (story by)
Runtime: 1 hour 19 minutes
Comedy isn’t an easy film genre to get right, and horror comedy is even more difficult. Striking a balance can be challenging, and there’s a fine line between poking fun at horror tropes and being mean-spirited about them. Fortunately, Ahockalypse manages to knock it out of the park…er, hit it out of the rink.
The film follows hockey teammates Jonesy (Jesse Rennicke), BJ (Squall Charlson), Wave (Alex Galick), their host mom, Mrs. Johnson (Gabrielle Arrowsmith), and a mysterious girl (Lindsey Kuehl) as they try to make their way to the safety of the hockey rink after the town is overrun by zombies. In addition to fighting the undead, the group must contend with a pair of idiotic bullies from the opposing team (Matthew Ford and Paulo Martins), a menacing strip club owner (Kelly Wendlandt), and Jonesy’s frighteningly controlling girlfriend, Jenny (Kaylee Williams).
I do have to start out by saying the production quality is pretty low. It’s not quite as obvious in the exterior shots, but most of the film quality is rough. The special effects aren’t awful-the zombie makeup is great-but there’s a bit of computer-animated blood splatter that looks a little cheesy. The sound mixing is an issue too; there are several moments where the score, as fun and wonderfully campy as it is, drowns out the dialogue. That said, this is an independent film with an independent film budget, and Ahockalypse proves that if a movie has strong enough acting and and entertaining enough writing, certain technical shortcomings can be overlooked.
Acting-wise, the entire cast is strong. The camraderie between the teammates and Mrs. Johnson feels genuine, and they all work off of each other really well. That said, there are a few stand-out performances. Lindsay Kuehl as Girl #3, the mysterious young woman who tags along with the group for most of the movie, barely has any lines, but she still manages to get a lot of laughs without being over-the-top. She revealed in a Q&A following the movie that she originally went to the casting call to be a background zombie and ended up landing a bigger role, and the movie is definitely better for it.
Kaylee Williams as Jenny is fantastic, striking a perfect balance between irritating and menacing; she especially shines in the “engagement party” scene with Jonesy and her zombie father (Chris Charais). The scene stealer, though, is Alex Galick as Wave. His comedic timing is incredible, his line delivery is hilarious, and his facial expressions are priceless. While the whole cast is excellent, he easily made me laugh the hardest.
Writing-wise, the plot is as straightforward as the synopsis makes it sound-hockey players fight zombies-but you can tell the script is a labor of love for both horror fans and hockey fans. It both pokes fun at zombie movie tropes and embraces them, which can be hard to do in a horror comedy without coming across as lazy or hypocritical.
There are a ton of hockey references in the movie as well; I couldn’t tell you a single one, because I am the least sports-y person you will ever meet, but the filmmakers mentioned in the Q&A that there were a lot of hockey references throughout the film, and the fact that they managed to include so many without alienating the non-hockey fans in the audience is a credit to the writers.
Ahockalypse is definitely worth checking out. It’s a genuinely funny, enjoyable zombie flick.
Have you seen ‘AHOCKALYPSE’? Well, what did you think?