Anna and the Apocalypse is available to rent or buy now.
Mixing Shaun of the Dead with High School Musical and a classic coming-of-age template, the outstanding, emotional and lively zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse was primarily ignored on its release in 2018. However, John McPhail’s spectacular slice of musical horror comedy has rightly become a cult Christmas classic since then. Anna and the Apocalypse is not only one of the best alternative Christmas movies of the past ten years, it’s a damn fine musical that should have already found a way onto the west-end stage.
Anna was the brainchild of the late Scottish filmmaker Ryan McHenry, who wrote and directed a short film titled Zombie Musical in 2011; however, its journey to a feature-length format would be years in the making, its premiere sadly arriving after McHenry’s death from osteosarcoma in 2015. Thankfully, despite this tragic loss, writer Alan McDonald, director John McPhail, producers Naysun Alae-Carew and Nicholas Crum and singer-songwriters Tommy Reilly and Roddy Hart were determined not to let McHenry’s vision fade, and by 2016, the creative ensemble was complete.
Set during the run-up to Christmas in a small Scottish town called Little Haven, Anna (Ella Hunt) isn’t feeling much festive cheer as she clashes with her dad (Mark Benton) concerning her post-school plans. Anna wants to travel across Australia, escaping the small town, while her dad wants her to attend university. But plans are about to be pulled into perspective as news of a strange new virus hits every TV and newspaper, and the world as Anna knows it begins to crumble. At its core, Anna and the Apocalypse is a classic coming-of-age story; Anna’s best friend, John (Malcolm Cumming), holds a secret crush on her, while her friend Steph (Sarah Swire), has been dumped in Little Haven by her globe-trotting parents as Chris (Christopher Leveaux) makes amateur horror movies. here the story follows a tried and tested template, as our young troupe realise they must fend for themselves in a world where the support of their parents and grandparents is no longer available. However, for all its classic coming-of-age tropes, Anna and the Apocalypse defies any labels.
From the outset, Anna and the Apocalypse states that there is no such thing as a Hollywood ending, and it delivers on that promise. While its humour, music and comic book gore are upbeat, a profoundly emotional core sits at the heart of the story, one that will lead to more than a few tears amongst the tinsel. As a result, Anna and the Apocalypse appeals to fans of classic zombie horror and those who prefer musical theatre; it’s a mash-up of Night of the Living Dead and Glee, and it’s bloody glorious!