Sitges Review: Zombie Christmas Musical 'Anna and the Apocalypse'
by Alex Billington
October 12, 2017
Brains roasting on an open fire; zombies nipping at your nose; yuletide carols being sung by the undead. Anna and the Apocalypse is a horror comedy film from Scotland that is, as far as I know, the first ever zombie Christmas musical. Yes, indeed, you heard that right – a musical set at Christmas about a zombie apocalypse – and it's awesome. Well, it's not perfect, but it is damn good and the whole thing is just so much crazy fun, that I can't help but say I enjoyed this film from start to finish. It takes a little while to get going at the start, but once we get into it, Anna and the Apocalypse becomes an instant blood-splattered smash hit. It's worthy of being called Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land, with wonderful songs and kills galore.
Anna and the Apocalypse is about a woman named Anna (of course), played by Ella Hunt, finishing her last few days in high school before the holidays with plans of traveling the world before college. When a zombie virus takes over their small town, she bands together with a few friends to try and survive and save her dad. If anything, the plot isn't very creative or original, and at times it loses steam while we wait for the next day to come (it takes place over a few days, not just one day/night). But the rest of it is fun, and the characters are engaging, and it moves towards the kind of dramatic zombie-killing-song it was building up to all the way through. Plus, it really is a one-of-a-kind "zombie Christmas musical", and that's an excellent achievement anyway. I'm glad someone was crazy enough to actually try and make this kind of mashup film.
As someone who loves musical (especially La La Land), a majority of the songs in this film are fantastic. They're all original and they're all entertaining, though not all of them are about zombies. Half of them are about staying true to your dreams and desires, and resisting a boring life or the asshole headmaster who doesn't want the students to have any joy at all. On one hand, Anna and the Apocalypse is marvelous as a musical. On the other hand, the film is a bit of a letdown when it comes to be a zombie horror movie. The kills aren't that inventive, nor are there a great amount of them, just enough to keep moviegoers satisfied (though horror fans may not be impressed). At the very least, the kills are violent and bloody and they don't really hold back, which is nice because they could've tried to aim for a PG-13 rating but that is not the case.
Even with a few minor gripes about the plot and the zombies, I will still say that Anna and the Apocalypse is thoroughly entertaining and best seen in a crowded theater (or with a big group of friends) who can get into it and laugh and cheer and applaud. That's the best way to experience this film, and will make it even better. I'm so happy this film even exists at all, because it is so unique as a concept, and director John McPhail and his cast & crew do pull it off. If he can actually make a zombie Christmas musical this fun, I'm excited to see what he does next (another cool musical mashup, please?) and how much he improves with each film he makes, because this seems to be just the beginning. But for now, we wish a Happy Christmas to all zombies.
Alex's Sitges 2017 Rating: 8 out of 10
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