Two years after its completion, Anna and the Apocalypse is finally available on home video here in the States. And if you haven’t heard of this little gem, it is the teen Christmas musical zombie horror comedy that you didn’t know you needed in your life.

Ella Hunt plays Anna Shepherd, a high-school senior who surprises her dad (Mark Benton) with her intention of putting off college for a year so she can trek around Australia. Her best mate, John (Malcolm Cumming) supports her decision, but secretly wants her to stay, as he’s not-so-secretly in love with her. Meanwhile, lesbian activist-in-training Steph North (Sarah Swire) is an American fish out of water, abandoned over the Christmas break by both her girlfriend and her parents. Young lovers Chris (Christopher Leveaux) and Lisa (Marli Siu) are living the perfect high school romance, while bad boy Nick (Ben Wiggins) lingers on the fringes of their click, making life unbearable for them all. But not quite as unbearable as acting headmaster Arthur Savage (Paul Kaye) wants to make it.

I have to admit that despite hearing nothing but good things about this movie before going in, the opening sequence was a little trying. The set-up is a bit cliché and at first there wasn’t really a lot to grab my attention. I was concerned that maybe it wasn’t going to live up to the hype, but once that first musical number kicked in, I was sold.

And I really don’t like musicals.

But what about the zombies, you ask? Be patient. They’re coming.

The film takes its time establishing the characters and what started out as stereotypes, quickly develop into real characters that we care about. Even that douchebag Nick. By the time we get to the Christmas pageant (and a fantastically risqué song from Lisa), we know that something’s not right in the world and the dead are walking the earth.

There are nice nods to plenty of horror (and musical) classics scattered throughout the film and we’re introduced to full-on zombie apocalypse action in much the same way Shawn of the Dead did, as Anna and John make their way through zombie-strewn streets oblivious in their own musical world. From there on out, Anna and the Apocalypse leans heavily into the blood and less heavily into gore (although it doesn’t shy away from beheadings and blood splatter where it works best for comedic effect).

When everything is said and done, Anna and the Apocalypse is a fantastically entertaining entry into the zombie genre (and the teen musical genre, the Christmas movie genre, and the horror comedy genre). Director John McPhail expertly crafts a film that should be in everyone’s holiday playlists from here on out and the songs by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly are not only catchy, but poignant and inspiring while moving the story along swiftly and smoothly.

Seriously, if you haven’t already, you need to grab a copy of this and make sure you’ve got it cued up both this Halloween and Christmas.


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