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Film / Anna and the Apocalypse

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Anna and the Apocalypse is a British zombie horror holiday musical comedy directed by John McPhail and starring Ella Hunt, loosely based on the 2011 short film Zombie Musical by Ryan McHenry. It premiered at Fantastic Fest on September 22, 2017, to widely positive reviews. It had a limited release in the US on November 30, 2018, and a wide release a week later (December 7th). It is getting a Blu-ray release on December 2 2019 by Second Sight Films, which will feature the Festival Cut and Theatrical Cut together.

During the Christmas season, a Zombie Apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven, 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…

The first trailer can be found here; the second (red band) trailer can be found here. The official "Hollywood Ending" music video can be found here; the official "Soldier at War" music video can be found here.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Anna and Steph; Anna's first reaction upon seeing the person she tried to help is a zombie is to whack it with her bag, then decapitate it with a seesaw, while Steph is able to handle zombies well on her own.
    • Steph is also pretty quick to switch to badass mode in the face of the zombies.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Savage may have some form of OCD. And that's not even getting into the sociopathy and psychopathy.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: Plenty of holiday asskicking is to be had thanks to the zombies.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the film's end, John, Chris, Lisa, Savage, Nick's friends, Chris's grandmother and Anna's father are all dead or zombified.
  • Apocalypse How: Societal collapse and/or species extinction on a planetary scale.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Lisa's song, "It's That Time of Year", seems to have gotten the attention of the elderly headmaster.
  • Asshole Victim: Arthur Savage meets his much deserved end just moments after he tries to kill Anna's father.
  • Badass Boast: "Soldier at War" is a musical version.
    When it comes to killing zombies, I'm the top of my class
    While you've been hiding, I've been kicking some ass
    I know the best form of defense is attack
    I know what I'm fighting for, I'm a soldier at war
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  • Badass Gay: Steph has a girlfriend and is quite the badass. She also ends up being one of the few characters to survive to the end.
  • Bad Santa: One zombie is dressed up like Santa Claus.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: During "Which Side You Are On?", Savage and Tony look directly at the audience when asking "which side are you on?".
  • Big Damn Heroes: Steph pulls this at the end to save Anna and Nick from a horde of zombies.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Leans more on the bitter side. A good chunk of the cast is dead or zombified, but Anna, Nick and Steph managed to escape town and are now trying to find a safe place to go. And Anna got to see her dad one last time before he died.
  • Book-Ends: One of the first songs is "Hollywood Ending", which gets a reprise in the final scene.
  • Camping a Crapper: Steph kills a zombie found in a public restroom by repeatedly slamming a toilet lid on its head.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Discussed by John and Chris, who speculate on which celebrities have survived the zombie apocalypse so far.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The film starts going from a horror/comedy to a more straight-up horror flick once the group gets to the Christmas tree emporium.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The star set piece for the Christmas musical and Steph's car keys both come back in a major way during the climax.
  • Dark Reprise: Subverted. When Nick lures the zombies towards himself to let Anna escape, he sings a snippet of "Soldier at War", implying that this will be his last stand; however, he survives.
    • The reprise of Hollywood Ending at the very end as the surviving characters sit in silence as they drive off into an unknown future, and ends with a jump scare.
  • Darkest Hour: "I Will Believe". As far as Anna and Nick know, all their friends have died, and they're about to make their Last Stand against the zombie horde. On top of that, Anna failed her major goal: saving her father.
  • Death of a Child: There's a brief shot of a zombie eating out of a pram.
  • Destination Defenestration: A Funny Background Event during "Turning My Life Around" has a person falling out of a window.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: John is established to hold a candle for Anna. She doesn't return the sentiment, but he takes it maturely and doesn't push her.
  • Don't Go Into the Woods: Christmas tree emporium in this case, but it fits the requirements: dark, spooky and filled with trees and zombies.
  • Double Entendre: "It's That Time of Year" is loaded with them. It's essentially "Santa Baby" taken to its logical conclusion.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The two students performing "The Fish Wrap" are dressed as penguins. Subverted in their second appearance, when they've been zombified.
  • Failed a Spot Check: During "Turning My Life Around", Anna and John dance in the streets, completely unaware of the apocalypse around them.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the beginning, there's a news report of a virus going around before Anna switches the radio channels.
    • Whenever he hurts his ankle, John temporarily walks with a zombie-like gait.
    • It's hard to hear because he's singing it at the same time as Anna, but one of John's lyrics in "Turning My Life Around" foreshadows his eventual fate:
    Forget your troubles, let go your woes
    Live for today 'cause you might be dead come tomorrow
  • Funny Background Event: At one point, a flaming tire is seen rolling down a road. One fan pointed out the connection to the Bob Dylan song "This Wheel's on Fire", but Word of God states that it was meant to be a "tumbleweed of the apocalypse". There is also a boat on fire.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Part of the reason Anna and John fail to notice the apocalypse in "Turning My Life Around" is because their earbuds are blocking out the screams.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: John pulls this when he's bitten, shoving Anna through a horde of zombies and drawing their attention to himself in order to let the others get to safety.
    • Nick draws a group of zombies to himself in the school to let Anna escape. Unlike John, he survives.
  • Hidden Depths: Nick acts like a prick through most of the film, but eventually breaks down when he admits he had to kill his own father. And his father's last words were "Do the right thing, for once in your life." Ouch.
  • High-Pressure Blood: The zombie that Anna decapitates.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The group manages to get through the Christmas tree emporium without losing any (named) survivors. Then John suddenly gets bitten.
    • Near the end, Anna finds and rescues her father, happy that she'll at least be able to save him...until he reveals the bite wound on his ankle.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The Zombie Apocalypse starts during the Christmas season.
  • Improvised Weapon: Giant candy canes, shopping carts, seesaws and bowling balls (among other items) are all used against the zombies.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: A song that repeats the lyrics "what a time to be alive" is used in the trailer. A reminder that this is a film about the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Jump Scare: There's one right before the credits when a banner saying "Merry Christmas" drifts in front of the camera, then blows away to reveal a snarling zombie Santa.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: After John's death, Anna takes on a horde of zombies with frightening seriousness.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Many of the songs were cut down in the US and UK theatrical release, only in the Film Festival cut has all the songs played in their entirety.
  • Medium Awareness: The characters are seemingly oblivious to that they're in a musical but special mention goes to one of Nick's friends during "Hollywood Ending", who gets up to join in but Nick pulls him back down.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The military men that were supposed to get everyone out of town quickly fall to the zombies offscreen.
  • Missing Mom: Anna's mother died sometime before the events of the film. The novelization goes into backstory detail.
  • Mood Whiplash: The trailers rapidly switch between cheerful dance sequences and human-on-zombie violence.
    • The film ends on a mostly somber, but hopeful note, with a Christmas banner majestically sweeping in front of the camera. Then bam! Jump Scare!
  • The Musical: A zombie apocalypse musical.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The prick of a headmaster is named Arthur Savage.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted; Justin Bieber is an offscreen casualty, and John and Chris discuss the probability that other celebrities (such as Robert Downey Jr., Ryan Gosling and Taylor Swift) survived the apocalypse.
  • Novelization: The film received one, filling in gaps that the film has left by providing expanded character backgrounds and adding new scenes.
  • Off with His Head!: Anna's first zombie kill happens when she uses a seesaw to decapitate a zombie dressed as a snowman.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Steph is one of the few characters who survives all the way to the end.
  • Quarreling Song: "Give Them a Show", sung by Anna and Savage, has a part where the two argue over the latter's philosophy.
  • Redshirt Army: The army is quick to fall to the zombies.
    • Nick's friends are all zombified during the group's trek through the Christmas tree emporium.
  • Sanity Slippage: Savage demonstrates this as his efforts to establish his own authority prove futile, to the point that he lets zombies into the school just to 'punish' those people who weren't listening to him.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: John lets out a high-pitched shriek after Anna seesaws the zombie's head off.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Turning My Life Around" and "Which Side Are You On?" have a very upbeat tone despite the context of the songs.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Nick, though not by choice.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: The holiday musical taking place at Anna's school.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Chris and Lisa, full-stop. They spend a chunk of "Hollywood Ending" making out with each other.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: School headmaster Arthur Savage is constantly trying to assert his authority over the other survivors in the school even as everyone else insists on taking action.
  • Small Town Boredom: Anna has this in the beginning of the film, having secretly bought plane tickets to Australia to try and escape it.
  • Social Media Before Reason:
    • "#EvacSelfie" becomes a trending topic as people take photos of themselves at evacuation centers, often posing with the zombies on the other side of the fence. Steph reacts appropriately.
    "Well, we all deserve to go extinct."
    • Subverted with Chris running back to grab his phone after he drops it. Steph criticizes him for trying to risk his life to retrieve a piece of glass and metal, but Chris explains that what he really wants is the photos of his girlfriend and grandmother that were saved on the phone, as they may be the last he sees of them alive. He was right about his grandma, but he does get to see Lisa again.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: We get a wide shot of something exploding at one point.
  • Stylistic Suck: The penguin rap performed at the school's holiday show. At least Tony applauds them for trying.
  • Take That!: Justin Bieber is an offscreen casualty of the zombies.
  • That Came Out Wrong: This bit:
    Anna: (after Nick throws something at a nerdy girl) You are such a child.
    Nick: A sexy child. (beat) Wait...
  • This Is Reality: The theme of "Hollywood Ending".
  • Together in Death: Chris and Lisa choose to do this after they both get bitten.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Steph snarks that "we all deserve to go extinct" after finding out how many people on the Internet have Skewed Priorities during the zombie apocalypse, such as taking selfies of themselves near to zombies on the other side of fences.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Downplayed. The Santa zombie from the Jump Scare at the end is shown off in trailers, but the context behind its appearance is left out, meaning that the jump scare is largely preserved.
  • Twisted Christmas: Anna and her friends have to deal with the Zombie Apocalypse during Christmas.
  • Villain Song: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now", sung by an increasingly unhinged Mr. Savage, as he taunts Anna and her friends behind safety while they're being attacked from all sides by zombies.
    • There's also his half of "Give Them a Show", sung counterpoint to Anna.
    • And, "Which Side Are You On?", Savage sings about self preservation, while Tony argues back that they must open the doors and find more survivors.
    • Depending on how you view Nick since he's very antagonistic towards Anna and her friends, "Soldier at War" may count. He turns out to be an ally, and he distracts a horde of zombies so Anna can look for her father in his reprise of "Soldier at War".
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: From the brief mention he gets, Nick seems to suffer this, courtesy of his militant father.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Yep.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After being humiliated, Mr. Savage lets the zombies inside the school.

Video Example(s):


"Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now"

Mr. Savage unleashes the zombies as a last ditch effort of control over the school.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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Main / VillainSong