Getting into the Holiday Spirit with Anna & the Apocalypse

22 Dec

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Anna and the Apocalypse is an enjoyable romp around the Christmas tree. There are times we do not know who is chasing whom given the two different villains in this work. Maybe the ornaments or gifts can prove useful to combat zombies but what about the other obstacles?

Not even playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller can prove to stave them off. I have seen dance-offs in a live performance from a different tale and it’s a marvel to watch. The music was rockin and I wanted to hear more. The melodies in this movie are joyous enough to toe tap but ultimately the focus is with the coming of age story.

In this movie, we are immediately warned of an impending (zombie) epidemic but for the titular character, earnestly played by Ella Hunt, she ignores it. Other stakes are at work; she wants to break out of the expected (to go straight to college) after high school graduation and explore the world. But the destiny has other ideas. The world soon falls apart. The coming of it to the small town of Little Haven in Scotland is inevitable. Before she knows it, everyone she cares for will either succumb or die. Such is the norm for this genre.

All the tropes known for a teenage rom-com are here too. John (Malcolm Cumming) and Anna have been best friends for a long time. He hopes for more and she does not see it. With her head in the clouds, reality sinks in fast and she has to learn how to deal. This movie cannot compress what the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer offers though it comes very close! She finds moxy as a warrior, but will she save the world? Only a sequel can say. Plus, musicals spanning several films are tough to sustain. Grease and its sequel is an example Comparisons to Glee have been made but I feel the Buffy is closer to the goal.

In this category of horror films, it’s all about survival. Everyone can be a hero as long as they try. In a broader sense, she has to live so those who have sacrificed themselves for her were not in vain. These touching moments made the film stand out.

The performances are very respectable and Paul Kaye stands out as wonderfully salacious. He steals the show. As school administrator Arthur Savage, he cannot wait to take the throne of principal. It’s all a cat-and-mouse game to him. His role in the grand scheme–and song and dance– is very comparable to the Duke of Monroth in Moulin Rouge. Even though I should not cheer, I had to wonder what kind of destiny is waiting for him. Could he lead the zombies to greater things?

This Scottish play was made on a budget and is clearly a labour of love. It’s an expansion of the short made by Ryan McHenry; sadly his passing due to cancer required John McPhail to step in to bring this vision to light. This director’s love for the genre (Evil Dead and John Carpenter films) certainly shows. The gore is not too off the wall. Overlaying the zombie image to characters representative of Christmas is nothing new. This subgenre offers a welcome change of pace for those tired of the same old seasonal movies to watch. Plus, I do not think enough zombie musicals exist. Adding one more to the list is heartily welcomed!

4 Stars out of 5

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