Film Festivals

TADFF 2018: Anna and the Apocalypse Review

Because we all love ourselves the occasional Zombie-Horror-Comedy-Romance-Coming-of-Age-Christmas-Musical, right?

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… (VVS Films)

Starring: Ella Hunt, Ben Wiggins, and Malcolm Cumming

Writers: Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry

Director: John McPhail

Rating: R (United States)

Running Time: 92mins

Trailer: 

It’s commonplace nowadays to see some interesting theme merging in films – action comedies, horror thrillers, and what have you. However, with this film, you are gonna get a first. You read that intro right. Anna and the Apocalypse is a mix of genres unlike any you’ve ever seen before – it’s a Zombie-Horror-Comedy-Romance-Coming-of-Age-Christmas-Musical. Yes, that is a long list of genres – a very long one. However, this is a film that manages to justify and juggle every single aspect perfectly, making for one of the best feel good films of the year.

The story, all in all, actually has a lot going for it. Even though the film tries to tackle a lot of subgenres, it always maintains realistic goals and balances them well. The plot is great with emotional parts that hit surprisingly hard when they need to. Of course, the midnight-y campy part of the film is also great. That aside, the film still works as a traditional narrative as well. Thankfully, even with the zombie/horror-esque plot, this still manages to be a light film, and a great one to watch at Christmas time – nearly all the jokes land thanks to the awesome collaboration between the screenwriters and its cast of nearly all unknowns. In particular, Hunt, Wiggins, and Cumming as Anna, Nick, and John respectively are the three we see the most of – and all three of them balance the insanity of the story extremely well, and keep it entertaining with a true chemistry and a distinct energy.

It’s definitely worth noting the songs here. Never feeling like a gimmick or a desperate attempt at engagement, the music is well put together. They work lyrically, have a really cool indie-pop vibe to them and the cast all performs them really well. Considering they are all relatively unknowns, this is a damn good group of singers in addition to acting. The choreography is awesome too – not only is the dancing in the musical numbers well put together, but in addition, the fight scenes are tremendously innovative. Seeing the characters run around with steel candy canes and such, dance killing zombies with blood spurting aftermaths always remains a cool touch and never feels like the choreography team is trying too hard. The choreography for the zombies themselves is also insane – some of them go so over the top, and it’s such a delight to see a lot of the extras to be so invested into their work. It also maintains a cinematic feel, never going into music video territory or anything of the sort.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a bit about discovery – it has a lot of unknown cast members, it’s only the sophomore feature for the director, it’s the first feature for the screenwriters, and it’s from a country that isn’t really known for film. However, this feels like it’s from experienced crew members, considering it takes millions of ideas never really put to film, and balances each and every one really well.

Score: 8/10

Follow me on twitter @daniel_azbel and on letterboxd @danthemovieman.

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