DVD Review: Anna and the Apocalypse | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, April 9th, 2020  

Anna and the Apocalypse

Studio: Cinedigm

Oct 08, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

High schooler Anna (Ella Hunt) is planning a gap year after graduating, much to her father’s disappointment. Having to pay for a plane ticket to Australia, she skips her school’s Holiday pageant to squeeze in extra hours on her job at the local bowling alley. When a zombie apocalypse breaks out overnight, it’s up to Anna and her bestie, ex-boyfriend, and a couple classmates to fight their way through the undead hordes to rescue their friends who have barricaded themselves up in the school.

Anna and the Apocalypse is notable for being the first-ever Christmas musical zombie movie. Characters break into song and choreographed dance numbers throughout, belting out their thoughts and feelings like they’re on an episode of Glee. It’s not entirely seamless—the movie’s flow seems to pause for these routines, putting the plot on hold until each song is finished. Unfortunately the music’s not exactly great, with no real earworms and lyrics that are mostly too earnest and straight forward to play on any level of clever camp. (The villain’s song would be the most entertaining, were the performer not so gratingly hammy.) Only one number ever reaches its potential, and it’s only the obliviousness of its performers to the zombie apocalypse occurring around them that provides the humor, rather than the lyrics.

It doesn’t fully succeed as a musical, or as a zombie movie or a Christmas film. The best zombie movies use the walking dead as some sort of metaphor; here, they’re zombies purely for the sake of zombies. They aren’t scary at all, but lumbering creeps meant to be knocked over or decapitated by our teenage heroes like the slow-moving goombas hopped on by Mario on his way to the Princess’ castle. As a whole, Anna seems more influenced by video games like Dead Rising than any Romero or Fulci film: the good guys fight their way through one level/setting packed with unintimidating flesh-eaters on their way toward a final showdown with an over-the-top human boss.

The Christmas setting also feels a little tacked on: few of the songs address the holidays, and while it provides a topic for a little of our characters’ banter, the movie looks like it was shot in mid-September and dressed with discount holiday decorations. The Christmas aspect feels like an afterthought, even as our heroine is bashing zombies with an oversized candy cane.

Anna and the Apocalypse tries to be a lot of things and deserves praise for that ambition, but it only half-succeeds at any of them. That’s ultimately very disappointing.


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