Have you ever wanted to experience a musical sung by teens that took place at Christmas, during a zombie apocalypse? Wait no more, because “Anna and the Apocalypse,” which made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, will fulfill all your needs concerning the precise aspects depicted above. Well, almost all of them.
As the Christmas show of Anna’s (Ella Hunt) high school looms, all she can think about is how wonderful her one-year trip in Australia will be once she completes school. Meanwhile, her best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) is desperately in love with Anna but can’t bring himself to reveal it to her. In the midst of all this, a zombie apocalypse has broken throughout the world and is ravaging its way into the town. Surrounded by her group of teenage friends, Anna must fend off the undead and hopefully keep a Christmas spirit while doing so; all wrapped up in a bow of songs performed by our protagonists.
Now, I’m not a musical-movie type of guy and I tried getting into that mindset when the film commenced. Unfortunately, I suppose I’m just not the right audience for musicals, even if they do involve zombies, which is a genre I seem to never get tired of, contrary to most. I must admit, one or two songs were catchy, entertaining, and even stuck in my mind to this day. However, I must also confess that most of the time, when a character began to sing out of nowhere, I rolled my eyes at the tackiness of it all. Also, I’ve always wondered this about musicals: when characters break out into song, sometimes even along with the villain in the midst of a fight or argument, are the characters conscious that they’re singing together instead of resolving the issue at hand? That’s always bothered me…
There are definitely one or two original kills (a see-saw and bowling balls come to mind), but there was so much more unexploited potential. This movie had the possibility to elevate itself to “Shaun of the Dead” stardom (coming to us from the U.K. as well), but missed on so many levels in terms of humor or “zombiness,” although the make-up effects were more than decent. Ella Hunt does a fantastic job as the main character, allowing us to get attached to her quite well, which is not always an easy task. The plot was typical, accompanied by some typical and usual characters (albeit, well portrayed), but I suppose there are always archetypal stereotypes of teenagers in the real world, too.
“Anna and the Apocalypse” could have been so much more legendary if it had used its “song time” to exploit its own possibilities. Nonetheless, I suppose it wouldn’t be a “stand-out-from-the-rest” movie if it wasn’t a zombie/Christmas/musical in the end. All in all, the motion picture written by Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry and directed by John McPhail is still worth a watch, despite not going down in history as a top zombie film, meriting 3 stars out of 5.