Theoretically this film was released theatrically on 30th November last year but there didn’t appear to be a single cinema anywhere in England that showed it. I searched for it but no one seemed to pick it up for screening. It has now come out on iTunes and DVD though so this is the first chance that most people have had to watch it. Fortunately it is worth the wait.
It is hard to think it this wouldn’t have found a reasonable audience in cinemas, especially at a time of the year when many people are looking for something that punctures some of the seasonal cliches. To be fair Anna and the Apocalypse is only really a Christmas movie in the same way that Die Hard is a Christmas Movie, it is set in late December and features some of the accoutrements of the holiday, but really it has a different focus.
Think about Anna and the Apocalypse as the perfect movie if you loved Sean of the Dead but thought that what it really needed was some songs. In fact no, scratch that, this is the film for anyone that had fun with High School Musical but thought that it would have been vastly improved if it had been set in Scotland and had hoards of the undead in it. (Who wouldn’t think that?) This one is for all those Brit kids who enjoyed High School Musical a decade ago then, and still get a nostalgic kick from it now but really want something with a little more bite.
The story follows a lot of zombie flick cliches such as the inventive ways of crushing a undead human head and having the infected minor characters turning quickly but with the named players having enough time to say goodbye or hold back the hoards before they go full zombie. There is a familiar switch from horror to pathos and once again the best route of escape seems to be through a dark and foreboding passage. The mixing of these things with excellent song and dance numbers does add new treats though and there are some other nice twists on convention elsewhere too.
The young cast are also great. Ella Hunt has huge charisma in the lead but everyone handles the singing, dancing, comedy and tragedy with even skill. Familiar faces Mark Benton and Paul Kaye support well in the adult cast as well.
Anna and the Apocalypse isn’t going to set the world on fire but it definitely deserves more fanfare that it got at the end of last year. It celebrates teenage friendships, has a formidable female protagonist, it contains loads of catchy tunes and it’s got plenty of guts. Plenty to get your teeth into then. I would urge you to hunt it down now that it’s easy to do so.