{Movie Review} Anna And The Apocalypse (2018): Directed By John McPhail

Anna And The Apocalypse

Alan McDonald & Ryan McHenry (Screenplay) • John McPhail (Director) • Focus Features

Reviewed By A.S. MacKenzie

There are many things in this world I don’t know I need until I experience them. It’s like finding the missing puzzle piece that you overlooked in the picture. It never bothered you that it wasn’t there, but when you place the missing piece in, suddenly the picture seems complete. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is a magical experience.

This is what I felt when reading three little words in the subtitle of a movie poster. Not the title of the film, but the sub. The one just underneath. The bright red poster with a single figure holding a giant candy-cane aloft caught my eye, but that subtitle…so good. It said these fantastic individual words that combined into something ridiculous and astounding:

Zombie Christmas Musical

I can’t describe the sensation when watching this movie I knew next to nothing about ahead of time and the characters break out in song while literal zombies tear people apart. It’s surreal, stupid, and glorious.

Anna is a high school student in the small British town of Little Haven. She has dreams of traveling the world before going to university, which her father thinks is a bad plan. Her best friend (trope alert!) is secretly in love with her but is still supportive and by her side through thick and thin. There’s the American who is missing their girlfriend and whose parents went off to Mexico for the holidays. Two star-crossed lovers, one a budding film student and the other a daring young ingénue. Let’s not forget the ass hat of former boyfriend/school bully. All the classic tropes are there, but you really don’t mind because, hey, there are zombies!

The school is set to perform a Christmas show and all the local parents are there, but Anna and her BFF are working. They go to bed ignoring and missing the news stories and snippets about a strain of illness sweeping the nation. The next morning, they head off to school completely and blissfully unaware the world has fallen into blood-soaked chaos overnight. This leads to what I can only describe as the best scene depicting a total lack of awareness since Sean went to the corner store in Sean of the Dead. Actually, I dare say, and I know the kind of trouble I can get into for this from the horror community, it was better than Sean’s scene. Anna sings and dances her happiest of happy songs while zombies raise hell behind her. I loved every frame of it.

The two then discover what has happened when a zombie in a snowman suit tries to attack them. Fighting their way to the bowling alley where they work, they meet two more of their friends. Now, combined, and gathering others as they go, Anna is determined to get to the school where her dad must have hidden the night before. It’s a bloody, violent, intestine spilling, head-lopping trip to the school, but they make it. Only to find there are worse things inside.

The cast is made of talented young actors and some veterans who some will recognize. The sets are minimal, the effects are practical and not extravagant. The dialogue is expected but not tired. In short, if it weren’t for the zombies, it’d be a so-so high school musical. But for some reason, the element of zombies added is kind of like adding just enough sweetener to a cake recipe. You don’t taste the sugar on its own, but it’d be a terrible chunk of bland cooked dough without it.

I am now a better person for this film. I realize it is a lot to throw on a 90-minute film with singing, dancing, Christmas, and zombies, but there you have it. My puzzle picture is now complete…I think.

Anna And The Apocalypse

A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – 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.

A. S. MacKenzie

A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.

Ice Where There Was None

A block of ice in a Florida park. A victim posed inside. 
The first officers on the scene struggle to maintain the melting evidence. 
Then it happens again. 
…and again….and again…
While the officers wonder why they are always the first on scene, their department begins to wonder the same.

You can claim a copy of Ice Where There Was None via A.S. MacKenzie’s library

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