Arriving just in time for Xmas the special edition Blu-ray of Anna and the Apocalypse is the perfect horror holiday movie offering up a seasonal display of drama, songs, and zombie slaying.
It’s the countdown to Christmas in the sleepy Scottish hamlet where very little happens and Anna (Ella Hunt from Cold Feet and Dickinson) is desperate to escape. Planning to fly as far away from her home town as possible as soon as school is done Anna goes through the motions placating her best friend and star of the upcoming school show Lisa (Marli Siu) while avoiding the attentions of idiotic hunk Nick (Ben Wiggins seen in Pennyworth and The Witcher).
Her dotting dad Tony (Mark Benton) and love sick best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) who is far too timed to tell Anna his true feelings, would do anything to make her stay however even they might balk at bringing forth a full scale zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately that is exactly what has happened and now the teens must fight for their lives all the while singing their hearts out while others get theirs ripped out all around them.
Made by an assembled cast and crew of newcomers including the director John McPhail and writers Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry, whose short Zombie Musical helped inspire this movie, Anna and the Apocalypse opens like any other high school musical with troubled teens, terrorising teachers and parents who just don’t understand.
Thankfully 30 minutes in things take a terrific and terrifying turn in the spectacular sequence where Anna leaves her house singing “Turning My Life Around” while all around chaos reigns and zombies tear her neighbourhood apart. From this point things are far more interesting as Anna and John team up with Lisa’s filmmaking boyfriend Chris (Christopher Leveaux) and American exchange student Steph (Sarah Swire) whose girlfriend and parents have abandoned her in another country.
Determined to make it back to the school where their parents, loved ones and in Steph’s case, car are they leave the unsafety of the Bowling Alley and battle through town coming across flesh eating oldies, infested Christmas Tree forest and an undead Santa who is determined to get them in his sack and stomach.
Although few and far between horror musicals always work well from Little Shop of Horrors to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and various all singing adaptations of films like Evil Dead and Re-Animator. Anna and the Apocalypse is no exception in fact it is the highly original songs penned by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly that elevate this film over its so-so effects and stereotypical set-up.
Packed with dual meanings from the melancholy ode to our over technologically dependent age “Human Voice” to the cynical “Hollywood Ending” detailing the young folks disillusion there are also more fun ditties including the swear word ridden “Soldier At War” sung by Nick and his crew all about killing zombies and “It’s That Time Of Year” sung by Lisa, a tune filled with so many double entendre’s it makes Santa Baby sound as clean as a carol.
All of these musical numbers are performed with aplomb by the cast who are excellent although special mention goes to Sarah Swire as Steph, Mark Benton as Anna’s widower dad and best of all the always brilliant Paul Kaye who plays Mr Savage the villainous power hungry headmaster who revels in the terrible new world order and gets to sing about it as well in his anthemic “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now”.
On Blu-ray for the first time in the UK this 2 disc set includes a stocking full of extras with the theatrical and an extended cut of the film alongside audio commentary with director John McPhail, writer Alan McDonald, composers Roddy Hart, interviews with the main actors, and crew, behind-the-scenes featurette, an alternate opening and ending and much, much more.
Far darker than you might expect and all the better for it, Anna and the Apocalypse is still a proper crowd pleasing horror musical comedy that will appeal to multiple audiences especially the younger crowd who will instantly identify with the characters dealing with growing up in the worst possible way.
A perfect gift for horror fans this is a movie that brings the true spirit of Christmas to the fore all while adding undead guts and gore. Wow that sounds like a song lyric!