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Review: Anna and the Apocalypse

Anna and the Apocalypse
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PLOT: When a zombie apocalypse takes over the town of Little Haven - and the world - it is up to Anna and her friends to try and escape the walking dead mayhem and murder... and they do it all with a song.

REVIEW: When it comes to zombie comedies, it is hard to beat the brilliance that Edgar Wright gave audiences with the modern classic, SHAUN OF THE DEAD. And while we’ve seen some clever takes on the walking dead since, this year there is something really special arriving in theatres. ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE has a little bit of everything, and then some. This Christmas, comedy, romance, musical, zombie flick is a wonderfully inspired work, one that has a great soundtrack, a delightful cast and a good amount of zombie bloodshed. Weeks after my first viewing, I still can’t get this flick out of my head. There is so much spirit and heart behind this terrific film, that it transcends your typical horror comedy.

Anna (Ella Hunt) is about to celebrate her final Christmas as a high school student. Yet conflict is hitting her from all sides. Her best pal John (Malcolm Cumming) is in love with her. Her father Tony (Mark Benton) has his own plans for her future. And Nick (Ben Wiggins), the guy she is kinda sorta involved with, is a bit of a jerk to pretty much everyone. And if all that wasn’t problematic enough, a zombie apocalypse has turned most of the townsfolk of Little Haven into flesh eating monsters. Now, the only future that Anna and her friends need to worry about is immediate survival when nearly everyone around them wants to feast on their flesh. Will Anna and her friends survive the nightmare and graduate? Well whatever happens, they’ll do it all with a seriously catchy song or two.

anna and the apocalypse horror comedy zombie christmas musical malcolm cumming ella hunt john mcphail alan mcdonald ryan mchenry joblo.comThere is an energy behind this holiday treat and it is about as infectious as an actual zombie bite, and much of that comes from the cast. Ella Hunt is perfect as Anna, as is her BFF Malcolm Cumming. From the very first moment we realize that the film is very much a musical, it is a relief to see that the two performers are terrific at both the music and the more dramatic elements of the script. They are surrounded by a wonderful group of actors and singers that includes Wiggins, Mark Benton, Paul Kaye, Mari Sui, Ella Jarvis, Christopher Leveaux and Sarah Swire. For a Christmas zombie musical to work, you’d better care about the folks in jeopardy. Thankfully, not only can these folks carry a tune, they are all exceptionally charismatic.

It can be very difficult mixing horror and comedy together. Finding the right balance between scares and laughs is especially tricky. While ANNA isn’t necessarily terrifying, it still manages to create a few very tense sequences. And with Paul Kaye, you have a  great human villain, one that gives The Grinch a run for his money. As well, the zombie effects are all quite good, and the creative use of holiday decorations as a weapon is hilariously inventive. Much of that brings the humor and laughs, and there is a ton of it. The zombie snowman is one of the best sequences in the film, especially thanks to Cumming and Hunt's reactions to the insanity. This mix of humor, heart and horror is all wrapped together for a contagiously charming holiday feature.

And then there is the music. This collection of toe tapping original songs is just a delight. From the opening holiday number called “Christmas Means Nothing Without You” by Shonagh Murray to the joyful “Turning My Life Around,” the soundtrack perfectly captures the essence of the movie in every way. “I Will Believe” is a lovely and bittersweet farewell that manages to bring a bit of heartbreak and hope to this feature. And if you need a fun Christmas tune, you’re likely to enjoy the “Santa Baby” inspired “It’s That Time of Year” with Mari Siu, backed by scantily clad Santa dancers. The music truly helps bring the movie to life. And even if you aren’t a fan of musicals, you still have so many other elements to enjoy.

anna and the apocalypse joblo.com horror comedy zombie musical christmas john mcphail alan mcdonaldryan mchenry ella hunt malcolm cumming ben wiggins paul kayeANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE is an early Christmas present to horror, comedy and musical lovers. By bringing all of these things together, director John McPhail has offered up a truly special feature film. Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming and Paul Kaye lead a fantastic cast that brings this hilarious bit of horror a whole lot of heart. If you are looking for something fresh and unique this holiday season, I highly recommend this excellent and inventive tale. While there are a couple of songs that didn’t quite thrill, the soundtrack is well worth putting on come December. If you loved SHAUN OF THE DEAD, you are very likely to fall for Anna and her friends as they fight off a horde of zombies with a song in their hearts.

Source: JoBlo.com

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