‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ | Film Review: Slayin’ and Singing with the Dead

Would it be a bit strange to combine the genres of horror and musicals? Not likely since we already have the likings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Sweeny Todd, just to name examples. Now it’s been done with a Scottish romp as Anna and the Apocalypse is one might not mix well in either department.

What’s the Story: In the sleepy town of Little Haven around the holiday season, a sudden zombie apocalypse has occurred. Now, it’s up to Anna (Ella Hunt) and her friends to save their loved ones from the school and fight and sing through the madness.

Ella Hunt and Malcolm Cumming in Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

You might think this sounds original enough, but it’s based on a short called Zombie Musical by the late Ryan McHenry (who died in 2015), who’s credited as a co-writer with Alan McDonald. It’s basically said to be High School Musical with Zombies, believe it or not. Now his short has become a full-length feature that most will have fun in the process. Anna and the Apocalypse could’ve been a fun time based on early word of mouth from 2017’s Fantastic Fest, and yet, I wasn’t feeling some kind of spirit I was hoping for.

Ella Hunt is a breakout star in the making as Anna. She’s really the one character that’s given a bit of development when she wants to take a gap year and want to get out of her town. Let’s all hope she has an expanding career in the future after this.

When it wants to be a zombie movie, it does a fairly good job at being one. Does it come close to the greatness that’s Shaun of the Dead? Not even, but you got some mildly enjoyable zombie killings for your pleasure.

But how’s the musical aspect of Anna and the Apocalypse? Disappointing because the songs, written by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly, and musical numbers aren’t exactly memorable. There were probably two songs that were a bit good like “Hollywood Ending” and “Turning My Life Around”; the latter happened when Anna is oblivious to her chaotic surroundings. Not a whole lot of pizzazz, either.

Ella Hunt in Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

The effort that’s shown from director John McPhail (Where Do We Go from Here?) where you can see the premise of a comedy musical had promise, but nothing came out as spectacular. From an emotional core, it felt weak, and none of the humor was working for me when it’s that dry type of comedy that some will get.

Then the rest of the supporting cast like Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, and Mark Benton was good as John, Steph, and Anna’s dad Tony, respectively. But all of them are pretty much underdeveloped, so we don’t care if any of them die beside Anna. Paul Kaye as Principle Savage was so over-the-top to the point I can’t tell if it was intentional or not.

Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, and Callum Johnstone in Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

A story like this falls under predictability, which can be enough for some to make this an unconventional watch for the holidays. At no point was this ever boring to watch.

Anna and the Apocalypse have the appeal that would’ve suited better as a Netflix movie rather than a theatrical release. Maybe it’s because I never think Christmas and horror is a good plan when it shouldn’t be dark, but it’s one of those movies will forget about later on in life. Should you watch this if you’re a musical fan? You could give it a try to see if you’ll like it.

Grade: C+

Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Paul Kaye, Mark Benton, Ben Wiggins, Marli Siu, Christopher Leveaux

Director: John McPhail

Writer(s): Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry

Runtime: 93 Minutes

Studio: Orion Pictures


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