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Film / Anna and the Apocalypse

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Anna and the Apocalypse is a British zombie horror Christmas musical comedy directed by John McPhail and starring Ella Hunt, loosely based on the 2011 short film Zombie Musical by Ryan McHenry. Premiering at Fantastic Fest on September 22, 2017, to widely positive reviews, the film received a theatrical release in the US on November 30, 2018.

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.

Anna was positively received by critics and audiences but failed at the box office. It has since developed a cult following.

While receiving an immediate home media release in the UK, the film was made available in the US on hulu in March 2019 before a Blu-ray release on December 2, 2019 through Second Sight Films, which contains bot the Festival Cut and the longer Theatrical Cut, along with the original short film "Zombie Musical". Apart from the two cuts of the film, the US had its own, shorter, cut.

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.
  • 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 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.
    Nick: While you've been hiding, I've been kicking some ass.
  • Badass Bystander: Two teenage girls with no names or audible dialogue swat at a pack of zombies with their backpacks for several seconds while trying vainly to get the Distracted from Death Anna's attention and warn her to get to safety.
  • Bad Santa: One zombie is dressed up like Santa Claus.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: During her argument with her father regarding her plans for travel in Australia, Anna declares that she can't wait to get away from him. Much to her regret, she ended up getting her wish when his ankle was bitten by a zombie, forcing her to say goodbye to him before his death through conversion.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Steph pulls this at the end to save Anna and Nick from a horde of zombies.
  • Big "NO!": Anna yells this when she saw her father getting bitten by a zombie through his ankle, realizing that not only she is forced to leave him behind, but also getting her wish of trying to get away from him granted.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Leans more on the bitter side. Most of the cast is dead or zombified, but Anna, Nick and Steph can escape town and are now trying to find a safe place to go. Also, Anna got to see her dad one last time before he died. Different cuts of the movie have darker or lighter endings.
  • Bludgeoned to Death: One of Anna's neighbors tries to do this to a zombie but he apparently Failed a Spot Check and hits it on the top of the head, which is protected by a hard hat, rather than on the face. This ends poorly for the human...
  • Book Ends: One of the first songs is "Hollywood Ending", which, in at least one version, gets a reprise in the final scene.
  • 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?".
  • Butch Lesbian: Steph, who mentions she's got a girlfriend, has boyish short hair and masculine attire.
  • Camping a Crapper: Steph kills a zombie found in a public restroom by repeatedly slamming a toilet lid on its head.
  • Celebrity Casualty: Justin Bieber, who was alive and well in real life when this film was released, is depicted as an offscreen casualty of the zombies in the movie.
  • 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.
  • Clothing Damage: Lisa's concert dress gets ripped when Savage barks at her to run forward as a couple of her friends are putting the finishing touch on it.
  • Crapsack World
  • Crowd Song: "What a Time to Be Alive" was intended to be a prologue that introduced the main characters but this didn't happen. "Hollywood Ending" qualifies.
  • 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" 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 someone 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 in a mature way 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.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Most of the background characters from "Turning my Life Around" are last seen this way. Given how many of them don't appear zombified over the next couple days they might have made it out of town.
  • Failed a Spot Check: During "Turning My Life Around", Anna and John dance in the streets, completely unaware of the apocalypse around them. To be fair to John, he was taking a different route with fewer zombies in the street, but Anna outright misses two girls running out of cover to swat at zombies and outright trying to warn her for several seconds before they give up and run.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the opening scene, there's a news report of a virus going around before Anna switches the radio channels.
    • The star above the stage nearly hits Savage early on in the film; Anna uses it to knock him to his into a crowd of zombies, who rip him apart.
    • 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:
  • Goofy Suit: The two students performing "The Fish Wrap" are dressed in penguin suits. Subverted in their second appearance, when they've been zombified.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: During "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.
  • Hero vs. Villain Duet: “Give Them a Show”, which is between Anna and Arthur Savage, with the latter singing about his doomsday mentality while the former tries to rebut him — all while she’s smacking zombies with a giant candy cane and trying to save her father from the villain’s machinations.
  • 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.
    • Savage is set up like he has hidden depths, shown by his melancholy disposition during "Hollywood Ending". But nope, he's just a prick!
    • However, in the novel Savage implies that his parents raised him like how he acts, but he doesn't show any kind of resentment towards them.
  • 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.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Chris makes a futile effort to do this for the zombie he ends up having to kill at the bowling alley (it's more prolonged in the book).
  • "I Want" Song: "Break Away" provides this for Anna, Steph, John and Chris.
  • "I Am Great!" Song: Both "Soldier At War" and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" count, Nick and Savage think highly about themselves here.
  • Improvised Weapon: Giant candy canes, shopping carts, seesaws and bowling balls (among other items) are all used against the zombies.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: There are zombies in Christmas-themed sweaters (including a bachelor party with custom sweaters and reindeer antler headbands), a snowman costume, day job uniforms, and more.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: "Turning My Life Around", 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While Nick acts like an asshole throughout most of the first act, it becomes clear that his abrasive behavior is due, at least in part, to his father.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini: Nick. He's a bullying thug, he betrays Anna's trust after they have sex, and he boasts - in song, no less! - that he's tough and mean enough to survive in the post-apocalyptic world while the protagonists are cowardly weaklings who need his protection. In most zombie movies, this would all be a set-up for a particularly horrible and deeply satisfying death. But no, the movie rewards him with survival and a Maybe Ever After with Anna. Apparently the message here is that you're better off with a bullying thug than trustworthy friends when the situation gets truly dire.
  • 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 their presence 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 who 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 the backstory.
  • 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 novel remains upbeat until Savage murders Julie.
  • 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.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never revealed in either the film or novelization what happened to Steph and Chris on the day of the outbreak that saw them flee from the homeless shelter to the bowling alley.
  • Novelization: It 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.
  • Patricide: Nick, though not by choice. His father had been bitten and that was his last request.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Steph is one of the few characters to survive until 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.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Possibly unintentional, or meant to be a case of And I Must Scream, but the last time we see the zombified Chris and Lisa. Their fingers seemed to be moving, trying to touch each other as they rambled along, maybe hinting at a Warm Bodies-esque hope that they're Fighting from the Inside and that there is hope for at least some of the zombies to be cured or become more than mindless creatures.
  • 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.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Sickeningly Sweethearts Chris and Lisa form this nicely, with Chris being a film geek while one reviewer called Lisa a budding cabaret performer.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: John lets out a high-pitched shriek after Anna seesaws the zombie's head off.
  • 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 large chunk of "Hollywood Ending" making out on the lunch table.
  • 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.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Turning My Life Around" and "Which Side Are You On?" have a very upbeat tone despite the context of the songs.
  • 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.
  • Tempting Fate: Mr. Savage assuring the others that the nearby army base can clean up the epidemic quickly.
  • 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...
    • Lisa has a moment of this, combined with Digging Yourself Deeper when she insults Nick while forgetting he and Anna had sex once.
    Lisa: I mean, yeah, he's got a body you could lick chocolate off but you'd have to have like, no self-respect. To even think... I mean, um... Not you, obviously! The others! Not that there's been loads, you know, it's probably all just rumors anyway.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Advice Song: "Which Side are You On?" from Anna and the Apocalypse, a duet sung by the main villain Mr. Savage and Anna's father, Tony. Here, Mr. Savage attempts to convince the survivors locked inside the school that they must protect themselves instead of helping any survivors outside.
  • 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.
    • Savage's part in "Hollywood Ending", however it's more of a Villainous Lament.
    • There's also his half of "Give Them a Show", sung counterpoint to Anna.
    • Depending on how you view Nick since he's 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Many of the people seen in the stands watching the Christmas pageant, aren't seen either among the survivors hiding in the school or the zombies besieging it afterwards. Many of the students from the pageant rehearsal, and the Hollywood Ending scene also disappear afterwards. And then there's Anna's neighbors mentioned under Exit, Pursued by a Bear.
  • Who's Laughing Now??: Invoked during ''Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now"
    Savage: All my life they told me I would never succeed, put me down, controlled me, made me follow their lead, bought the lies they sold me for too long, I am finally freeee!
    Savage: Hey kids! School's not boring is it? I've been calling you all zombies for years! Now fuck off!
  • Villainous Breakdown: After being humiliated, Savage lets the zombies inside the school.
  • You Monster!: Anna has a few lines of this during "Give them a Show".
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Savage believes this, although he's not exactly the best judge.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Yep.


Anna and the Apocalypse

A Christmas Musical with Zombies!

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5 (4 votes)

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