Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Blazing Griffin, Parkhouse Pictures, Creative Scotland, Black Camel Pictures, Icon Film Distribution, Odeon, Orion Pictures, Pony Canyon, Shaw Organisation, Splendid Film, VVS Films, Vertigo Releasing, Alambique Destilaria de Ideias, Cinedigm, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Second Sight Films
Director: John McPhail
Writer: Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Actors: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins, Mark Benton, Paul Kaye, Sean Connor, John Winchester, Euan Bennet, Ella Jarvis, Myfanwy Morgan, John McGeachie, Janet Lawson, Ruth McGhie, Kirsty Strain, Michael Annis

Blurb from IMDb: 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.

Selina’s Point of View:
When I heard about this horror musical, I knew that it had the ability to be something amazing. Horror musicals like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) become legendary among their cult members. It’s such an interesting combination of genres, though, that all of them tend to be weighed against each other regardless of the content.

That means that Anna and the Apocalypse had some really high expectations to meet.

The first thing I noticed was that these kind of apocalypse movies just hit differently now. I’ve said it before and this probably won’t be the last time. It’s surreal. This film opens up on the main character in a car with her friend and father. The radio starts talking about how the flu-like pandemic has been underestimated and is now much more fatal than expected.

That doesn’t sound familiar at all, does it?

Sorry, but I’m just never going to get used to relating to viral and zombie-related apocalypse films. Not going to happen.

However, I found that I was still able to lose myself in this flick without being overburdened by the emotional similarities. The musical aspect remained a welcome escapism.

Do I think it could stand up to the greats in the musical horror genre? Yeah, actually. I do.

Anna and the Apocalypse is what you get when you cross Shaun of the Dead (2004) and High School Musical (2006). Both of which are extremely successful in their respective genres. That feeling carries over.

The music was all toe-tappingly good. I think there was one song that didn’t really work for me, but the rest of it was absolutely perfect. Paired up with that was all the violent gore you expect from a zombie horror. The two aspects balanced each other out perfectly.

I also have to give a nod of recognition to the fact that Anna and the Apocalypse completely subverted almost all my expectations. There were one or two tropes followed – but the rest of it went in a different direction.

The entire thing was just incredibly well done. I’d say that you should give it a shot even if musicals aren’t usually your thing.

Cat’s Point of View:
I remember watching the trailer for this movie as I was preparing my list for the Top 20 Movies Coming Out in November of 2018. This film landed squarely at #10. As I put then, musicals rock my socks. 

When you blend that with a zombie horror movie? I figured it either had to be gold – or a real disaster. Thankfully, this wasn’t a handful of pyrite. It’s the genuine article.

Of course, musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. You do have to approach a film like that (especially live-action) with a grain of salt where your suspension of disbelief is concerned. Once you get past the part where everyone breaks into song randomly, you’re good to go.

This production might be a little easier to take due to the fact that this is also a horror-comedy.

I really enjoyed the musical numbers and how they shifted from ‘fitting in’ with their respective scenes to starkly contrasting with what is going on in the background and then back again. All on purpose.

One of my favorite funny spots happens during one of these contrasting numbers. It had me laughing while saying ‘what the hell?’ Some of the songs got stuck in my head. I have found myself humming one even as I’m writing.

This was an indie project, so I wasn’t surprised that the cast didn’t seem all that familiar to me. Most of the young cast members playing students were fresh faces of up-and-comers.

Some, such as the title character’s Ella Hunt (Intruders, Robot Overlords, Cold Feet), Ben Wiggins (Mary Queen of Scots, Pennyworth, The Witcher) and Paul Kaye (Dracula Untold, The Ghoul, Game of Thrones) might be more recognizable for those in the States – though, it is a bit hard with Kaye’s character, Savage, due to the makeup for his role. I kept wondering why the teacher with the beard was vaguely familiar. I digress…

As expected, there is a bit of blood and gore involved here – it’s a zombie movie, after all. It’s not gratuitous or over-the-top of what would be expected. I’ve seen more graphic zombie kills on The Walking Dead (2010-). It remains a solid R rating nonetheless.

Anna and the Apocalypse was an unexpected breath of fresh air. It both followed the standard genre recipe and danced around it at the same time. I will likely revisit this one when next Christmas season rolls around.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 61%
Metascore – 63/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.0/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

P.S.: There are three different cuts floating out there. We saw the USA cut; but there are two longer versions out there.

Movie Trailer:

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