ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE is the rarity that is a zombie musical set during Christmas directed by John McPhail and written by Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry. The film is based on the 2010 BAFTA-winning short Zombie Musical.
The zombies do not appear till 20 minutes or so into the movie. They are seen only in the background as Anna and her friends do a musical number. The film takes its 20 minutes in the set up of the story that revolves around Anna and her the sleepy Scots town of Little Haven – at Christmas.
The story is typical for a young teen. Anna (Ella Hunt) is upset that her father disapproves of her taking a year off her studies in travelling to Australia. Anna’s best friend is John (Malcolm Cumming) who want something more than a plutonic relationship with her. Nick (Ben Wiggins) woos her though she dislikes him for his wild behaviour. Her friends include lovebirds Chris (Christopher Leveaux), who loves recording everything on film and Lisa (Marli Siu).
Though a Scots production, the film fails to use much o the magnificent Scots landscapes usually found in films from Scotland. The Scots accent is also lowered several notches so that North American audiences can follow the dialogue and song easily. The dance and song numbers are nothing spectacular – something that in the order of what can be expected in a show put on by a school, which is actually the case here. The musical novelty in a zombie flick runs out of steam quickly. After the seconds song, one wishes the distraction of song be left out. The one exception is the spritely naughty musical number performed by Lisa on stage with lewd lyrics accompanied by scantily lad boys in Christmas spangled attire.
The zombies are disposed off with a fair share of violence but done in a matter-of-fact comical way. No one should complain.
The reason for the zombie outbreak given is a flu type virus. Nothing is mentioned of what is happening in the rest of the world. The film totally revolves around the narrowed world of Anna and her friends.
The teen characters in Little Haven resembler pretty much the typical teenager around the world but less annoying. They are stuck in their little world of non-ambition, fun, romance and independence. The script could have added some rites-of-passage or coming of age that the teens could have gone through a result of the so-called apocalypse.
The story also ends up predictable fare towards the end. One can tell who is going to be bitten by the zombie and thatAnna and her father will reconcile.
The reason this small Scots film fined North American distribution is the fact that is is a musical – a rarity. But it is this same fact that mars the film from going anywhere. It seems all the incidents are geared towards a musical number from the very first song “Breakaway” which stresses Anna’s desire to travel to Australia. The film’s target audience for ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE would be youth interested in horror fare.