When I heard that Anna and the Apocalypse was a Christmas zombie musical movie, I have to admit that I was curious, even if that curiosity was tempered with a heavy dose of skepticism. The trailer was promising enough, though, and it performed well on the film festival circuit, so I thought I would give it a shot.
Anna and the Apocalypse takes place in a small town called New Haven. The local high school readies itself for its annual holiday pageant. During this pageant, the zombie apocalypse reaches their sleepy town. Anna and her friends slash their way through town to the high school where the hope to find their friends and family.
The setup here is pretty standard on paper, but the execution is surprising and fresh in a way that I haven’t ever really seen. There is real commentary here about the current state of the world and our own involvement. Would we even notice if an apocalyptic event was happening? Or are we too self-involved–shoved too far up our own asses via social media–to notice? Our we, in fact, already the zombies that so many of us worry about?
Turns out, the answer to that question is a little more complicated than it seems. We are zombies, sure, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also another external threat that is more serious. Still, the central thesis holds–would any of us even notice it until it had chosen us as a victim?
Anna and the Apocalypse boasts an incredible cast led by the abundantly charismatic Ella Hunt. Hunt brings Anna to life in convincing and kick-ass fashion. The cast is full of talent, but the real scene-stealer is Ben Wiggins as Nick, the school bully who is really find a way to flourish in the carnage of the apocalypse. Spoiler alert: he loves killing zombies in truly violent fashion while singing one of the movie’s catchiest songs.
Speaking of the songs! Holy Cow! Any media property that bills itself as a musical lives and dies with its songs (unless you’re Cats, in which case you just die). The songs here are absolutely in the pop sensibility, but they are all quality pop songs. They all also absolutely contribute to furthering the story and themes of the film. I can’t do these musical sequences any justice here. This short clip of “Turning My Life Around,” which sees an unaware Anna singing and dancing through the zombie apocalypse, is indicative of the smart self-awareness that runs through the narrative.
If you’re gathering around the TV this holiday season, and you’re tired of the typical old fare of Christmas and holiday movies, consider giving Anna and the Apocalypse a try. It is streaming now on Prime Video and Hulu.