A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven - at Christmas - forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE
by Ashley Hobley
Anna and the Apocalypse calls itself a “Christmas Zombie Musical”, a combination I didn’t know I wanted until I did a Reacts video for the trailer with Dylan. While its pitch might get people to watch it, the film is good enough to make sure people won’t think of it as just a gimmick movie.
Anna (Ella Hunt) is just a regular high school girl, with her biggest problems being her dad (Mark Benton) just finding out her plan to take a gap year to travel around Australia and a crush on the school bad boy, Nick (Ben Wiggins). Then the zombie apocalypse happens, and Anna and friends have to travel from the bowling alley they’re hiding in, to their school to rescue her father and other friends.
Ultimately, if you have seen a zombie movie before who’ll know where this film is going. There are only a handful of moments I didn’t expect or felt I’d seen before, which is alright because of the film’s original take on the genre. Anna and her core group of friends are all very likable, even if a couple of them start off acting a little overly odd. Ella Hunt is given a lot to do as the lead: singing, dancing, fighting, funny moments, emotional moments and combinations of them all. She does a fantastic job and may well be one to watch for the future. Paul Kaye’s performance as Arthur Savage, the controlling Headmaster-in-waiting, is the highlight of the film as he revels in his role as the antagonist. I never really warmed to Nick, even though the film tried very hard to make me like or sympathise with him. Also they never wash the zombie blood off their faces which seems weird and unhygienic even if it gives them (particularly Anna) a cool, iconic look.
The songs are pretty solid although, if you aren’t a fan of musicals this won’t change your mind. I felt that it opened strong with the songs “Break Away”, “Hollywood Ending” and “Turning My Life Around”, of which the later two have some pretty fantastic choreography. Watching Anna and John (Malcolm Cumming) dance around their small town, completely oblivious to the chaos the zombies are bringing around them was very enjoyable. However, the songs feel a bit more spaced out once the zombies appear. The song “Human Voice” was a bit jarring, as the casts sings about wanting to hear from another person, yet are amongst a bunch of other people. I get what they were going for (they want to hear the voices of the people they love) but it did take me out of the film a little bit.
Of the three featured elements, Christmas is the one that gets the short end of the stick. This is a Christmas movie in the same way Iron Man 3 is a Christmas movie, mostly as set dressing. This would have still worked without the Christmas element. But having the film set right before Christmas does give us the great imagery of Anna with her bloody Candy Cane and the film’s funniest songs “It’s That Time of Year”, which is filled sexual innuendos about seducing Santa.
While Anna and the Apocalypse doesn’t have the most original story, how it is told more than makes up for it. This film is destined to have a long life as something different to the standard fare to watch each Christmas season.
Director: John McPhail
Writers: Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry
Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Marli Siu, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Ben Wiggins, Malcolm Cumming, Paul Kaye
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