Zombies are hot right now. Recently the movies have given us funny zombies, undeadly serious zombies, Nazi zombies and even romantic zombies. “Anna and the Apocalpyse,” starring Ella Hunt in the title role, goes one further. It’s the first zombie Christmas musical.
Set in a small town high school “Anna and the Apocalypse” begins like many teen movies before it. We meet Anna, a high school senior whose best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) is not so secretly in love with her. Anna has recently split with Nick (Ben Wiggins), a bully with a devil-may-care attitude. Then there’s film nerd Chris (Christopher Leveaux) and his girlfriend, the theatrical Lisa (Marli Siu). At the school newspaper is muckraking wannabe journalist Steph (Sarah Swire) whose work puts her at odds with the school’s tyrannical head master Mr. Savage (Paul Kaye).
The day after the annual Christmas pageant—and Lisa’s controversial performance of a Christmas tune that put the X in Xmas—Anna and John go to school, headphones on and turned up, oblivious to the massive zombie apocalypse that happened over night. “Justin Bieber is a zombie!” says one of Anna’s classmates excitedly after checking the singer’s Instagram. Will they survive long enough to be reunited with their friends and family? Are there any friends and family left to be reunited with?
Part “High School Musical,” part “Shaun of the Dead,” “Anna and the Apocalypse” succeeds mainly through its audacity. Power pop ballads and full-blown dance numbers collide with zombie headshots, creating a weird marriage of glitter and gore.
The charming cast sells the heck out of the tunes and fun dance numbers helps keep things moving, but this is essentially a one-joke premise that bogs down in the last half hour. Luckily, at ninety tight minutes, it is daring enough, smart enough—“We deserve to go extinct,” says John when he spies the Instagram hash-tag #evacselfie—and blood soaked enough to entertain.