“You wouldn’t be saying that if you were dressed like a festive legend!”
Anna and the Apocalypse is a 2017 British Christmas zombie musical film directed by John McPhail from a screenplay by Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry based on McHenry’s 2010 BAFTA-nominated short Zombie Musical.
In Little Haven, Scotland, Anna Shepherd is a soon-to-be secondary school graduate. Who plans to travel for a year before attending university, much to the displeasure of her widower father Tony. Her friends are dealing with their own issues. Her best friend and artist John is secretly in love with her. Budding filmmaker Chris is struggling with a class assignment. Ans transfer student Steph is trying to get her social justice reporting past the tyrannical vice principal Mr. Savage. Nick, Anna’s one night stand, is also making her life difficult. The night of the school Christmas show, in which Chris’s girlfriend Lisa is performing. Anna and John are working in the local bowling alley. And Chris and Steph have gone to the homeless shelter to film for Steph’s story. During this time, a zombie infection starts spreading. Lisa, Tony, Savage and Chris’s grandmother are stranded in the school. Anna and John bond over her post-graduation plans after work.
The next morning, Anna and John leave for the school, completely oblivious to the zombie chaos around them. When they encounter a zombie dressed as a snowman, Anna decapitates him with a seesaw. Figuring it will be too dangerous to go home or to the school, they go to the bowling alley where they meet Steph and Chris, who have taken shelter there. Steph finds out that an army evacuation is coming to the school, so the group plans to go there once it is safe. Anna and Steph find the zombified cleaner and Steph kills her, alerting a group of zombified bowlers to break in. The group kills them all after a bloody fight and realise that getting to their loved ones will be difficult.
The next morning Anna, Steph, John, and Chris wake up to find that the army has been zombified and no evacuation is coming. Regardless, they set off to the school to see if their loved ones are still alive.
Will they make it to the school unscathed? Or will there be more singing along the way? Watch and find out.
Anna and the Apocalypse is essentially a British parody of High School Musical with zombies. Although I’m not a huge fan of musicals, even I must admit that the songs were well choreographed, performed and written. I’m unsure if this was all a critique on how easy it is to replicate High School Musical or not, but whatever the reason it was well done. They managed to blend musical, horror and Christmas surprisingly well.
In addition to some solid musical elements, the film also had a solid plot. Fairly straightforward but enjoyable nonetheless. The characters – unlike in most horrors – weren’t simply blank slates, but each had their own motivations driving them forward. This meant that deaths had an emotional impact on you. I especially believed in Anna and John’s friendship, and Anna’s relationship with her father, Tony. But there was good chemistry between the core group overall.
I’m a huge fan of anything with British humour and this movie definitely delivered on that. It’s use of the insult “pleb” really shows off where it’s comedy lies. Additionally, there’s clear inspiration from other British zombie comedies, such as Shaun of the dead. The highlight for me though was the headmaster. A despicable, villainous sort – you truly relished in the anticipation of his comeuppance. Plus his solo and duet songs were fantastic.
The effects were well done, with especially impressive practical effects. This ensured you were never taken out of the movie and helped with the flow. It’s also very well shot, with good use of limited locations.
Some small negatives are classic dumb and fatal decisions by characters and the characters are pretty stereotypical as far as zombie movies go.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. Anna and the Apocalypse is a highly enjoyable and rewatchable film, definitely a new Christmas Horror favourite. Even if, like me, you’re not a fan of musicals, it’s worth a watch. Because what’s Christmas without a bit of music.
The Final Score