It’s hard to find many good zombie apocalypse Christmas musical comedies out there, but when you do, it’s a treat. John McPhall’s wonderful “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a great film teeming with massive cult potential that I think will big momentum soon. It’s that kind of movie warranting a big Broadway production a la “Rocky Horror.” On its own though, the Scottish born “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a great reprieve from the massive holiday rush. While the holiday season is filled with an overflow of maudlin movies, “Anna and the Apocalypse” is that right dose of holiday glee with some great zombie carnage to boot.
Set in Little Haven, England, Anna Shephard finds herself at odds with her father Tony, the school janitor, as she decides to skip college in favor of traveling. Her dad has other plans for her as he orders her to continue her education. As he heads to her school to help attend to the Christmas show, Anna awakens the next morning oblivious to an ensuing zombie apocalypse. When she and her best friend John realize that the locals are all being turned in to flesh eating zombies, Anna decides to band with her schoolmates and fight her way back to school to check on her dad, who is stuck inside with zombies surrounding the building.
Ella Hunt is given the weight of the film and is more than up for the challenge, offering an engaging and warm turn as the titular heroine. As Anna, she’s a girl filled with anger and angst, a lot of it directed toward her father. When the zombie apocalypse suddenly strikes her small town, she gains some sense of perspective, and has to figure out how to save the only part of her live that exists. Fighting through the endless hordes of flesh eating zombies also gives her and her friends some clarity as she sings and dances through much of the perils typically involved with a zombie invasion. Although the movie touts itself as a horror musical, it never shies away from the great zombie carnage.
There are many great moments involving gore, grue, gut munching, and the abject terror of the dead invading as most of the town is oblivious during their annual celebration for Christmas. Anna’s realization of the walking dead as she’s forced to do battle with a zombie in a snowman outfit is not only hilarious, but very reminiscent of the first zombie encounter in “Shaun of the Dead.” There’s also a great sequence of the characters attempting to sneak past a horde of the undead under an inflatable raft. Along with Hunt, there’s also Sarah Swire, who is very good as the film’s anti-heroine, and Paul Kaye as the film’s dramatic antagonist. “Anna and the Apocalypse” is something very different from the norm and works successfully as both a horror film and holiday film.
It’s a richly drawn, heartfelt tale about coming of age, growing up, moving on, and accepting what we can’t change in life. I love it, and it’s a shame not many audiences have discovered its charms yet, as it’s a crowd pleaser on so many levels that deserves a large loyal following.