March is an odd time to release a Christmas movie. 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 so this is the first chance that I, and almost everyone else, have had to watch it.
Now that I have seen it, it is hard to think it wouldn’t have found an audience, especially at a time of the year when many people are looking for something that punctures some of the seasonal cliches. To be honest Anna and the Apocalypse is 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.
To sum it up Anna and the Apocalypse is the perfect movie if you loved Sean of the Dead but thought 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 zombies in it. (Who wouldn’t think that?) This one is for all those Brit kids who enjoyed High School Musical a decade ago and 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; the inventive ways of crushing an undead head, the infected minor characters turning quickly but the named players having enough time to say goodbye or hold back the hoards, the switch from horror to pathos, the best route of escape being through a dark passage. The mixing of these things with big 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, contains loads of catchy tunes and it’s got plenty of guts. Plenty to get your teeth into. I would urge you to hunt it down now that it’s easy to do so.