'Anna and the Apocalypse' Is The Best Christmas Movie You Haven't Seen (Yet)!
Written by Kevin Donaldson
In the dying days of my year-long MoviePass subscription, I finally found a movie I can and want to see for the first time in 2 months. Not to rag on MoviePass. It has been the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received before the company stopped delivering what was promised. Those details aside, it granted me the privilege of seeing Anna and the Apocalypse, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a musical that follows a Scottish female high school student trying to survive a zombie apocalypse with her friends, family, and other classmates… and boy was this a rollercoaster ride, guys.
I’m not going to get into spoilers with this because, whether you watch this on a jail-broken Amazon Firestick or can find it in theaters, I would urge you to watch it not knowing a whole lot. However, I will say that this isn’t your typical Christmas movie by any means, and I will explain why, so if that’s too much information, skate along, kid.
Anna and the Apocalypse doesn’t have necessarily all the hallmarks of a typical Christmas movie, or even a Hallmark Christmas movie. Instead, Anna and the Apocalypse has all the hallmarks of actual Christmas. You have music. You have disputes with friends, families, and co-workers. You have the need to just survive your friends, families, and co-workers. You have what the stress of holidays can do to you that you take it out on strangers and neighbors. You have death. You have giving (as the zombies bite people and give them the zombie virus). You have an overwhelming sense of dread during the second-half that everything is all down hill from here, and most of all you have the need to just survive… and it’s fantastic!
That is mainly what I got out of it anyway. I personally love the holidays, but sometimes the whole season can have a bittersweetness to it that’s all about just making it out alive. Anna and the Apocalypse is probably the first Christmas movie I’ve ever seen to tackle the emotions of experiencing that kind of holiday season more realistically than any other film I’ve seen in the past about surviving the holidays, which is ironic because it’s not only a musical (a series of moments where people simultaneously break out into song and dance like that’s a thing normal people do in everyday life and never comment on it), but it’s also about a zombie virus killing the world by creating man-eating corpses ('nuff said there on unrealistic happenings). Still, from the musical number that really thrusts us into the apocalypse with Anna, those holiday survival instincts kick in and all you can do is sit there and hope for a happy ending.
Then there’s the music. If musicals really aren’t your thing, I would still suggest you go see Anna and the Apocalypse. This is certainly a musical film that could never be done on stage unless they seriously changed a lot of things. There also aren’t even that many songs in it, and while I think most of the songs that are in it are definitely for fans of musicals like myself, there are plenty of other things and even songs for non-musical fans to get into. After all, the most Christmas-y song in the film is certainly not a show tune. It’s much less ambiguous about having sex with Santa than the original version of “Santa Baby”, and I would argue it should become a Christmas classic too. I’ve already added it to my Christmas Spotify playlist and would gladly skip a multitude of other songs just to get to it. To top it off, if Christmas isn’t really your thing, then just be happy in knowing there is next to none of the sappiness or sentimental value seen in every other Christmas movie (and I’m including both Black Christmas movies).
Something else you should be prepared for before seeing Anna and the Apocalypse is that it is also a zombie horror movie. While there are funny moments, there is an awful a lot of death and gore. I would even say that, since Shaun of the Dead came out, there is certainly a zombie-comedy-horror genre, and Anna and the Apocalypse might be one of the goriest out there. It’s not gore like Peter Jackson’s earlier work done as part of the joke. It’s straight-up a lot of gore done to be kind of realistic and as a joke. In all honesty, the team behind this production really put a lot into it, and while it’s got a low-budget feel, everything seems bigger, so for all I know the budget could’ve been 65 million dollars or pounds (whatever Scottish people pay with). It’s truly hard to tell, and all that credit for the attention to detail goes to the filmmakers and the crew working so hard on this film.
The most impressive thing about Anna and the Apocalypse, however, is how it juggles all the genres it’s trying to hit seamlessly. It actually feels like a movie and not just a jumbled mess of a much of different genres, which is what tends to happen with ambitious projects like this that want to do everything. It’s a simple story, but by the end, I was floored, and the movie never gets complex or convoluted. I went to a bar next to the movie theater to have a beer, and not just because I’m an alcoholic, but because I needed a minute to let what felt like a rollercoaster ride end in my mind. It’s a very different movie, but I have not had that happen since Mad Max: Fury Road, which felt like I was actually on a rollercoaster the whole time.
Anna and the Apocalypse is currently in theaters. As I said earlier, it is not easy to find in theaters in some areas, so if you watch it illegally, then I would strongly urge you to support the film upon its home release, even if it is just renting it. We need more films like this that want to do something different and can pull it off. In order to do that, we all need to actually pay for them.
(Image via Orion Pictures)
- Kevin Donaldson, YH Contributing Writer