Anna and the Apocalypse
by Toby Woollaston
Ah, Christmas. There’s no better time to release a zombie-musical-comedy. That’s right, a zombie-musical-comedy—Christmas themed, no less. But before you scratch your head in confusion, remember that seasonal zombies are a timely metaphor for consumerism. Their mindless march and veracious appetite for braaaaains provide the perfect allegory for the Christmas shopping period. Director John McPhail (Where Do We Go From Here?) celebrates this “feastive” season by gift-wrapping for us a splatter flick that is delicately tied together with musical curly ribbon and a comedic bow on top. Think High School Musical blended with Shaun of the Dead and you’ll get the idea, although this medley of harmony, humour and horror doesn’t have anywhere near the same polish or comic wit.
Anna and the Apocalypse doesn’t muck around though and it’s not long before the undead spill into the streets. Or should I say stagger into the streets … these are the slow brand of zombies; the twitchy, Micheal Jackson Thriller kind and as with most movies of their ilk, the story focusses on a small group of high-school students who are inexplicably unable to outrun them. Enter Anna (Ella Hunt), a zombie-bashing songstress in her final year of high school. Her plans for a gap year OE to Australia are thwarted by these walking dead. Finding themselves separated from the safety of their school grounds, the group proceed to bash, wallop and sing their way back in order to save friends and family holed up there.
It’s all fairly tropey stuff, but where this film stands out is the odd but rewarding decision to lace the action with musical interludes. Unfortunately, this is where the fun ends as poor writing combined with questionable acting cedes the remainder of the film to be stilted and awkward. The poppy musical numbers are catchy enough but ultimately more should’ve been made from its promising mixture of music, mirth and mayhem. It’s neither scary nor particularly funny, but you might find yourself tapping your feet.
See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.