I have three words for you. Zombie, Christmas, Musical.
I can’t remember the movie I was watching last year, when I first saw a preview for Anna and the Apocalypse. But I couldn’t forget this movie. As a huge fan of horror and more specifically the zombie sub-genre of horror, I knew this was a film for me. I immediately turned to my husband and said, “this is like Shaun of the Dead…but with singing!” It was unlike anything I’d seen before and the list of horror I have seen would easily fill a commercial airplane hangar.
I have a small group of like-minded horror friends that I attend spooky events with throughout the year. One started an email chain to set up an evening where we could all attend a showing of AATA (Anna and the Apocalypse) in December. As the film was still in limited release our options were slim. Luckily the Arclight in Hollywood had two showings on Sunday December 2nd. One at 5pm and one at 7pm. The macabre gods were smiling down on us that evening. Because without realizing it, when we signed up for the 5pm showing, it included a Q&A with the Director, Cinematographer and a cast member. WHAAAATTTT?!?!!
Our group took up an entire row at the Arclight and settled down to view the movie/musical. If you haven’t heard about this movie before, here is a preview.
You: “Yeah but I don’t really like musicals.”
Me: “You’ll like this one, trust me.”
You: “But I don’t like things that are too gross.”
Me: “This isn’t that type of horror film.”
You: “Um, I just don’t go for the whole Christmas thing…
Me: “JUST SEE THE DAMN MOVIE AND THEN FORM AN OPINION!”
Yes it’s a zombie film, AND a musical AND a Christmas movie.
But it’s so much more than that.
After viewing the film we were introduced to the Director, John McPhail, cinematographer Sara Deane and actor Christopher Leveaux who plays Chris Wise in the film. John started the panel by telling us that this is not the first zombie musical. That goes to the aptly named short, Zombie Musical (2011) by the late Ryan McHenry. He is credited as one of the writers of Anna and the Apocalypse but sadly passed away from osteosarcoma in May 2015.
The panel took questions from the audience on a range of topics from how long did it take to film, was every actor a singer before this role, to which character would you be in a zombie apocalypse? When it was my turn, I asked what music inspired the soundtrack? John McPhail said there were loads of bands that inspired the pop-music soundtrack, everyone from U2 to Hall and Oates. My favorite song, “Soldier at War” took inspiration from legendary rock band, Queen! As soon as I got home that night, I asked Alexa to play the AATA soundtrack and have basically been listening to it on repeat ever since. So when the movie was recently released for digital streaming, I knew every word by heart.
The movie really is more than just a horror-comedy or movie-musical. It has a smart script where the teenage characters sound like legit teenagers. It uses and pokes fun at traditional horror movie tropes. The story is both heart warming and heart breaking. It has real moments of conflict and risk that keep you watching and rooting for our heroine, Anna played by the talented Ella Hunt. Her on screen friendship with John (Malcolm Cumming) is so believable. We all have a, “been-there” moment. Well, minus the disembodied snowman head of course.
The villain is played brilliantly by Paul Kaye who G.O.T. fans may recognize as Thoros of Myr. The charming Steph (Sarah Swire) has some of my favorite one-liners as well as my favorite singing voice of the cast. Lisa (Marli Siu) and Chris Wise (Christopher Leveaux) share a beautiful sweet and angelic love-story perfectly juxtaposed against the chaotic disaster swirling around them. Plus Lisa sings a tongue-in-cheek(y) Christmas song that well, took me by surprise and would make Santa blush.
It wouldn’t be a zombie movie without killing the un-dead, and I love the creative ways our characters take on that challenge. The bowling alley scene is fantastic. I love that the characters call them zombies and know what they are, immediately. I can’t stand it when characters in zombie films act like they’ve never seen a zombie movie before. As if that whole genre didn’t exist in their world. In AATA they deal with it in a very playful and satirical way.
Anna and the Apocalypse is available now on the following digital platforms: Fandango Now, Frontier Communications, iTunes, Google Play, PlayStation, Amazon Prime, Verizon, Vudu and XBOX.
Don’t bother renting it, just go buy it! One viewing isn’t nearly enough. Besides you can watch it for Halloween and Christmas this year. Two holidays in one.
If you have seen it, let me know what you think in the comments below.
I’m always looking for new horror films to check out, if you know of any, please post your recommendations in the comment section.
Visit https://www.aatafilm.com/ for more information.