Director: John McPhail
Writers: Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Starring: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire
Have you ever sat down to watch a movie only to realise that you’re not the target audience for the movie? You sit there thinking “this film is not for me” whilst completely outside of your comfort zone.
That’s what happened to me as I watched Anna and the Apocalypse.
Initially, I thought the film would be perfect.
It’s a Christmas based zombie-apocalypse film set in a quiet Scottish town – so far, so good.
Zombies might be in nearly every other movie and genre but as this has a festive setting, I thought that now would be a great time to give it a go. It’s been doing the festival rounds since 2017 but was only recently released for purchase in the UK, so what better time to arm myself with a few horror-themed elf on the shelf puns, place my Leatherface on the Fireplace and my Pinhead in the dog bed and settle down to watch?
All seemed fine at first, we’re introduced to Anna (Ella Hunt) and her love-stricken but heavily friend-zoned B.F.F., John (Malcolm Cumming) when suddenly, barely 5 minutes in, Anna breaks out into song and I realise that I’m watching a musical. And if there’s one thing that I struggle to get into, it’s musicals.
There are a few exceptions to that rule though, with the likes of The Blues Brothers, Repo the Genetic Opera and Poultrygeist. But other than that, I’m not a fan. I tried and be professional and impartial, to let my natural feeling of revulsion for impromptu singing not get in the way of things and just enjoy the movie.
Unfortunately though, I couldn’t do it.
You see, when a movie is a Christmas, teen, horror, comedy, musical it’s given itself a lot of balls to juggle and ends up dropping a few of them.
Sure, I’ll give it the Christmas, teen & horror parts of the movie.
The snow can be a bit inconsistent and clearly melted pretty damn quickly but that’s not really a major issue and doesn't spoil the Christmas feeling.
There’s the expected cast of twenty-somethings trying to pass off as teenagers, but again, not a problem and yes, there is horror…sort of.
The zombies look pretty good and there’s a fair splattering of blood and bits but it just feels too light-hearted to be horror. There’s nothing that makes you (as a viewer) feel any real sense of horror toward what’s happening.
Now, maybe I’ve been somewhat desensitised over my years of watching innumerable horror flicks, but nothing here worked in a real horror sense, mainly because of the other two factors of the movie; the comedy and the musical aspects.
The comedy elements just didn’t work for me at all.
There really wasn’t anything that caused me to laugh, or even raise a wry smile or smirk. I know that I’m a bit of a grumpy old bastard, but there are plenty of comedy horrors that make me laugh and it just didn’t happen here.
Now, that could be the teen aspect of the movie and again, as I’m an old git, something that’s directed as humour to a teen audience isn’t necessarily going to gel with me, but I’d at least expect something. Surely there would be the odd moment to make me chuckle through an inventive zombie kill or something? But no, there wasn’t anything of the sort.
That brings me nicely to the worst part of the film for me; the musical part.
Some of the cast such as Ella Hunt & Sarah Swire have really good singing voices and do a fantastic job, but what really failed here for me is that there was nothing catchy about the songs. They just kind of happen, but at no point did I find myself tapping my feet along to the beat or getting an earworm wriggling in my brain.
Now I know I said that I’m not a fan of musicals, but if they’re done well, they can still draw you in and leave you suddenly humming one or more of the tunes a few days later, but the offerings here are just a bit bland. It’s like getting a well-cooked meal that the chef forgot to season and whilst it’s still palatable, there’s nothing about it that makes it memorable or something to recommend to others.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film, it’s just that for me, it was a bit flat and will be something that within a few months or so I’ll end up forgetting all about.
If you think a festive, teen, musical, horror, comedy sounds like something that you would enjoy then, by all means, give it a go, but for anyone a little unsure of the premise, I’d probably steer clear.
Anna and the Apocalypse is available on DVD:
and on BluRay:
and also on amazon prime: