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Anna and the Apocalypse – Movie Review

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Anna and the Apocalypse – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

Among celebrated movie monsters, zombies seem to be among the most adaptable to other genres. Multiple filmmakers have taken the brain munchers and found ways to play around with their identifiable characteristics. It was inevitable someone would make zombies the focus of a musical, thus the creation of Anna and the Apocalypse. The movie plays on many of the familiar zombie movie tropes, so fans of the walking dead will definitely enjoy themselves. While one can definitely see the influence of Shaun of the Dead throughout this film, director John McPhail has still crafted a charming holiday horror comedy musical.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a little slow going at first as it attempts to introduce the central characters. Before the zombies show up, there is a High School Musical vibe running throughout, but it seems intentional on McPhail’s part. Once the zombies finally make their appearance, the energy picks up as the film does explore the characters a bit better. McPhail directs the zombie fighting scenes with a sense of humour and fast-paced ferocity that gel quite well. While the film never reaches the outlandish heights of Shaun of the Dead and Dead Alive, the makeup team still creates some bloody zombies and the writers come up with clever ways for the protagonists to dispatch of them.

The main heroes present a likeable crew, led by Ella Hunt’s Anna and Malcolm Cumming’s John. The stand-out ends up being Sarah Swire as the one American student among the Brits as she brings a deadpan sarcasm to the role. There are also some humourous physical comedy bits, which add to her discomfort with the whole ordeal. Beyond the zombies, Anna and the Apocalypse includes an additional villain in the form of Paul Kaye’s tyrannical headmaster. Kaye goes incredibly over-the-top in the role, which oddly works with the movie’s tone. While there are attempts at emotion, the filmmakers know to keep the film mostly silly.

The musical element surprisingly doesn’t add much to the general experience. With that said, the choreography is certainly handled with plenty of professionalism and it’s clear how much fun everyone is having. The songs mostly keep to a modern pop format, allowing for a level of consistency. It’s a credit to the filmmakers that the dialogue-based scenes are still funny and engaging and there isn’t a patient wait for the next musical number to start. The songs themselves are well written with a real understanding of the characters. While these tunes won’t be heading to Broadway any time soon, songwriters Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly give them the proper pep and youthful energy.

Anna and the Apocalypse makes for a fun mash-up, even if the musical and Christmas elements aren’t entirely essential. However, it does check off the ingredients for a good zombie movie. There are characters one hopes don’t get bitten, a fair share of creative zombies and careful problem solving as the protagonists attempt to get past the hordes. The songs are certainly listenable and the performers are giving them their all and the final result ends up as a charming end-of-year diversion that is destined for cult status once it reaches streaming services.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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