The premise of Anna and the Apocalypse is a simple one: right before Christmas, a little town in the UK called Little Haven (along with the rest of the world) succumbs to a viral epidemic that transforms humans into zombies. As a result, a ragtag group of misfits battle to remain alive and to save the people they love.
It’s not a new storyline. We’ve seen it before. But the three things that breathe (undead) life into this little-zombie-apocalypse-movie-that-could are toe-tapping musical numbers, dump trucks of teenage angst, and B horror movie realness.
Yes, my friends, Anna and the Apocalypse is a zombie Christmas musical!
And while critics and viewers have been quick to compare it to High School Musical, I don’t think the comparison gives the film’s soundtrack the credit it’s due. Sure, the songs are cheesy. (I mean, would you expect any less?) But the harmonies are on point, the vocal performances eclipse those of Disney teens, and the lyrics have way more intention than I expected. They either foreshadow events to come (“No such thing as a Hollywood ending”), poke fun at dire situations (“As I wake half dead/In the same old bed” – sung by Anna about her humdrum life as virtually everyone in the town around her has become a zombie overnight), or serve to point out flaws in modern day society (the song “Human Voice” laments our obsession with technology and our lack of true human connection).
But don’t worry, the Anna and the Apocalypse soundtrack isn’t trying to be this intellectual, heady thing. There are moments when it’s laughable, pure-fluff fun. I mean, Nick, the gorgeous jock you love to hate in the movie definitely sings the line “When it comes to killing zombies, I’m the first in my class,” and theatre darling Lisa croons a truly inappropriate Christmas song about keeping Santa satisfied (which totally evokes Mean Girls vibes!). Which is just fun.
Quite honestly, this is the kind of soundtrack I want to play on repeat in my car on the way to work, belting out all the madcap, crazy lyrics and trying to match the harmonies.
And then there’s all the teenage angst that, dare I say, just might be scarier than the flesh-eating zombies staggering through town.
Anna and the Apocalypse covers all the bases when it comes to high school drama. Anna dreams of getting out of town and exploring the world, but her father is adamant that she goes to college as soon as she graduates. Anna’s best friend, John, has the hots for her but can’t seem to make a move. Steph is a painfully awkward American girl who dreams of being taken seriously as a journalist and whose parents are partying it up in Mexico (without her) for Christmas. Savage is the future (and aptly named) headmaster of the school, who is obsessed with the position and won’t let anything get in his way, including a zombie apocalypse. Living up to parents’ expectations and slut shaming also come into play.
At times, the characters in Anna and the Apocalypse look way more comfortable decapitating zombies than dealing with their emotions, which is oh so relatable and makes us care about their collective fate.
Last but certainly not least, Anna and the Apocalypse is a gory good time, full of practical effects that are campy perfection.
And I love practical effects. Sure, CGI can be more realistic if done properly, but no one’s after realism in this movie. Instead, we’re treated to loads of blood spatter, oozy zombie bites, and lots of exploding body parts. The zombie kills are creative and pretty hilarious to watch.
In short, this movie has the makings of a cult classic. This holiday season, if you’re an craving a Christmas movie with a little, ahem, bite, give Anna and the Apocalypse a try.
And let me know when you buy the soundtrack.