Anna & The Apocalypse Review – Singing, Slaying and the Undead!
In celebration of Anna & The Apocalypse’s UK cinematic release, I have decided it’s time to don my ugliest Christmas jumper, mull my cider and review this Christmas zombie musical mashup.
When a zombie outbreak happens in Little Haven on the night of the big Christmas show Anna (Ella Hunt) and her friends must fight their way through hordes of festive themed undead to reach their loved ones. Half of the group wake up completely oblivious and the other half are stuck at the school under the tyrannical reign of Headmaster Savage (the ever amazing Paul Kaye).
It all starts with a normal college day. The titular Anna doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life after college, John (Malcolm Cumming) is struggling with his love sickness and Chris and Lisa are just in ridiculous gooey love with each other! After a few ‘typical’ musical songs that give the audience some background and sets up the characters, we finally get to the good stuff. Festive zombies and Holiday-themed deaths!
The Christmas hijinks kick off in hilarious glory with Anna and John fighting a bloodied zombie snowman. Watching them play see-saw with the undead Jack Frost was a merry little start to this Festive Apocalypse. Unfortunately, the Christmas theme runs a little bit low for a while after that. Until Anna’s amazing giant candy cane shank and the arrival the brain eating big guy himself, Zombie Father Christmas. The Christmas theme allows for some very fun and unique moments within this films, but it could have been utilised a little bit more, just an extra dusting of festive fuckery would have had me completely sold.
Now of course, this is also a musical, unfortunately that is the part where I felt a little bit let down. I really enjoy a good musical (and even some pretty bad ones if I’m being honest with myself) but this one just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It has nothing to do with the performers, the cast is talented and they really give it there all, I just think some of the songs lack the humour that is present in the rest of the film, I need more comedy and less Christmas angst. Two of the songs are amazing however! ‘Soldiers at War’ performed by Nick (Ben Wiggins) and his cronies is a boyband December No.1 with choreography that would make Take That proud. My other favourite had to be the maniacal rendition of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now’ by Savage. With all the presence of a Disney villain Paul Kaye hams it up in this brilliant musical number and ultimate Pantomime song.
So, before I ‘wrap up’ on this Zombie Musical there’s one other sequence I need to mention and that’s the amazing animated opening, I would watch that as a film in and of itself. Like a ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ short film, but about Santa becoming a mindless flesh hungry monster. It would be one of my favourite traditions! I do think that the opening set me up for a fall, it had me expecting more goof and comedy from the film than I received.
There is so much joy to take in this film filled with teen angst and Christmas lights, but it feels like an overstuffed stocking at points. I think it has the potential to be more than it is, but that doesn’t in any way make it bad. The film may edge a little too close to High School Musical at points but it always hits back with a zombie kill that reminds us that Father Christmas is bringing gore down the chimney this year. Tis the season to go for a headshot!
I was lucky enough to see this film premiere at Grimmfest 2018. Before the screening one of the producers Nicholas Crum discussed the long process of getting this film made and it was inspiring to hear and incredibly heartfelt. ‘Anna & The Apocalypse’ is based on a short film that was written and directed in 2011 by Ryan McHenry, who is credited as co-writer on this film. Unfortunately Ryan passed away in 2015. Crum discussed how this project was such a group effort and how McHenry wanted it to continue to be made for all the people involved within it, and I think that is just beautiful.
Thank you for reading! Hope you enjoyed!
Any Christmas horror films that you would suggest for this Bloody Festive Season?