FILM REVIEW: ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE (TELLURIDE HORROR SHOW)
Next up on our continued coverage of the Telluride Horror Show is our review of ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE. This quirky and very strange little film has been making the festival rounds for a while now, so I was excited to finally get a chance to see it. The two people that introduced the film at the festival had this to say “this is the best damn film of the year” and “you’ll definitely find yourself singing these songs later”. I can safely tell you that one of those statements held true for this writer, as I was humming like a damn idiot all the way back to the hotel. But, I’m also confident enough to admit when a film is good but not geared towards my particular tastes.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE tells the story of …Anna (Ella Hunt), as she tries to navigate all the usual trials and tribulations that befall a high school teenager. You know, boys, parents, classes, and of course, the undead. This film is a bloodier, more adult version of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL with zombies. Yes, you read that correctly. The film has moments of full blown choreographed dance sequences, sometimes involving zombie carnage and sometimes just about the everyday struggle of being a teenager. Just compare the two films’ cover art…just saying.
Anna and her Friend John (Malcolm Cummings) are dropped off at school on a day like any other. John tries to hide his affection for Anna, while Anna tries to ignore her obnoxious hunky ex Nick (Ben Wiggins). Anna’s friends Steph (Sarah Swire) and Chris (Christopher Leveaux) prepare for the school play, under the watchful eye of the ruthless headmaster aptly named Savage (Paul Kaye). The film sets up like any number of high school themed features before it, but then ANNA takes the zombie action to new heights.
Once the outbreak happens people fall into their little cliques, or insecurities, while others see it as a moment to try to take charge. It leaves Anna and her friends on separate quests to find each other, and hopefully rescue what’s left of this doomed holiday season. All the while doing it to one of the most absolutely hilarious and catchiest musical arrangements ever conceived. I absolutely 100% mean that. The music is fucking terrific and you will be singing it later, unless you’re some sort of heartless monster who doesn’t feel feelings. It’s so corny and tongue in cheek, that it’s almost aggravating how well written the music is.
You will hear ANNA being compared to a wide range of movies such as SHAUN OF THE DEAD, LA LA LAND, HAIRSPRAY, DAWN OF THE DEAD…and well, all of them apply. ANNA is unique in that it fits neatly into quite a few categories, while still being wholly original. Oh, and I have I mentioned it’s also a Christmas movie?? It really runs the gamut of genre twists, but ultimately stays true to its roots as a coming of age high school film…which is sort of my only issue.
I can certainly appreciate why it was so well received and it is absolutely deserving of the accolades that come with it. I know that this film is going to find a cult audience, and I can even picture midnight sing-alongs for years to come. I might even purchase the soundtrack at some point to spice up my holiday gatherings (particularly the innuendo heavy and slightly x-rated version of Santa Baby performed therein). That being said, it just wasn’t for me per se. I like my horror a little on the harder side, and this was just way too “Disney” for me and there wasn’t enough blood or gore to sway me in that direction. There’s some, just not enough to earn that genre cred from me. You may disagree, and there was plenty that I liked about it. I know that there’s an audience out there for this film, and a rabid one at that, I just don’t think it’s me they were after. It achieves wonders as a musical, but not so much as a horror film.
“This film is a bloodier, more adult version of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL with zombies.”
3 ½ Tombstones out of 5…