Director: John McPhail
Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence and Gore)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 13 December 2018
Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven - at Christmas - forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.
Who would have thought that zombies can have a musical for themselves? Look no further, because you have Anna and the Apocalypse!
Adapted from “Zombie Musical”, a short film by the late Ryan McHenry, Anna and the Apocalypse is set in a sleepy town called Little Haven during Christmas, a season so jolly and merry. This creates excitement for the viewers, because who would expect a zombie apocalypse to happen during a festive period like Christmas, right?
The result? It felt a little ‘lost’ and slightly ‘strange’.
While the ‘marriage’ of the 2 different genres is definitely a brilliant idea, it seems like there was a challenge to balance the ‘scare’ factor of zombie horror and the extravagance and glamour of a typical Broadway musical. Somehow, the direction was not defined and the film could not decide how it wanted to go about with the ‘marriage’.
The film took a good 30 minutes to kickstart the horror proper, comparable to an old and outdated computer needing time to fully load up its ancient system. And by the time it started, it was slightly overpowered by the musical element of the film, which already kicked in from the start of the film. So, while there is horror and some scary moments in general, the long build up just made it less scary for the viewers.
Having said that, Anna and the Apocalypse does impress somehow. Fuel-charged by a young and energetic cast, reminiscences of High School Musical and other similar musicals can be seen through the numbers that the cast belt randomly at certain points.
And, boy, were the songs amazing! With such pleasant voices and youthful energy, life was given to every note sung and it helped that the melodies are catchy and addictive enough to make you want to bop your head or tap your feet.
The film also focuses on various topics like love, family, relationships and others, giving it a little more depth and colour to the comprehensible and straightforward plot. So [despite the rather high rating] Anna and the Apocalypse makes for a good family film with a twist, especially so since most of the scenes take place in the school and around its surroundings
The [sometimes] erratic musical numbers placement and high school-centric humour makes the film delightfully funny and lovable, although some viewers might find it hard to grasp the slightly strong Scottish accents among the cast and the logic in some parts of the film.
Overall, Anna and the Apocalypse is endearing and pleasant enough for one to watch through the entire film. It is definitely an entertaining twisted comedy of its own kind and despite its inability to merge the 2 different genres well enough, it is still a rather enjoyable film and kudos to the director, producers and cast on the good effort.
(An innovative and promising collaboration of genres with much room for improvement, yet still entertaining. Definitely a yay for musical fans but nay for horror fans. Still worth a catch!)
Review by Ron Tan