'Tis The Season For 'Anna And The Apocalypse,' The New Zom-Com Musical What could be more full of holiday spirit than zombies, you ask? The new zombie musical comedy Anna and the Apocalypse is here to upend your holiday movie expectations.
NPR logo

'Tis The Season For 'Anna And The Apocalypse,' The New Zom-Com Musical

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/672342461/672342465" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Tis The Season For 'Anna And The Apocalypse,' The New Zom-Com Musical

Review

Movie Reviews

'Tis The Season For 'Anna And The Apocalypse,' The New Zom-Com Musical

'Tis The Season For 'Anna And The Apocalypse,' The New Zom-Com Musical

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/672342461/672342465" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

What could be more full of holiday spirit than zombies, you ask? The new zombie musical comedy Anna and the Apocalypse is here to upend your holiday movie expectations.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Holiday movies come in all shapes and sizes from "Miracle On 34th Street" to "The Nightmare Before Christmas." But there have not been a lot of films that upend holiday expectations quite so much as "Anna And The Apocalypse." Critic Bob Mondello says it's a high school Christmas musical with, you know, zombies.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Anna's dad is driving her and her best buddy, John, to Little Haven High when the alerts first come over the car radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Further updates now on the unfolding global crisis - reports of mass infection continue to come in from...

MONDELLO: Anna and John barely notice because they have other things on their minds. Anna's decided to take a gap year but hasn't told her dad about it yet. John's developed a crush on Anna but hasn't told her about it yet. In short, we're in "Pretty In Pink," "Breakfast Club" territory but in small-town Scotland with self-aware, movie-aware song.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

MALCOLM CUMMING: (As John, singing) What was I thinking? This isn't Disney. I'm way off-script and losing the plot. Things don't work out that way. I'm not McConaughey turning the charm or calling the shots. If this was...

MONDELLO: This is John musing to himself in the crowded school cafeteria.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

CUMMING: (As John, singing) I'm starting to realize sometimes the nice guys don't always get the girl.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) 'Cause no one ever tells you when you're young...

MONDELLO: Kids join in, pounding on tables...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Love's not like the books, the films or the songs.

MONDELLO: ...Also jumping on chairs, swinging trays around. We're in "High School Musical" territory now.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) We're tired of pretending there's no such thing as a Hollywood ending.

MONDELLO: If there were such a thing as a Hollywood ending, it would be seriously compromised by the presence of zombies. And they show up overnight. But Anna's got her headphones on as she heads out her front door and is somehow looking the other way as bodies fall from second-story windows and her neighbors battle flesh eaters.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

ELLA HUNT: (As Anna, singing) Hey, it's a brand new day.

MONDELLO: This puts in "Shaun Of The Dead" territory, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

HUNT: (As Anna, singing) I am miles away.

MONDELLO: Teenagers always miles away - no? - dreaming of a bright future that seems a little dimmer to Anna when her after-school boss at the local bowling alley starts acting strangely.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

HUNT: (As Anna) Mrs. Hinzmann...

(SOUNDBITE OF OMINOUS GROWLING)

MONDELLO: Happily, the kids are resourceful. Bowling balls are good for bashing heads, pool cues for skewering. And even the school bully proves useful for once.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

BEN WIGGINS: (As Nick, singing) Ladies, why don't you get behind me?

MONDELLO: Anna thinks this guy's a jerk, but he is handy with a metal bat.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

WIGGINS: (As Nick, singing) When it comes to killing zombies, I'm the top of my class.

MONDELLO: As the filmmakers skip from genre to genre, this "High School Musical" zom-com is exuberant, fun. And although it's a little less so when it settles firmly into the zombie genre just past the halfway mark, it stays decently buoyant even as characters you've come to like start falling by the wayside.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

MONDELLO: "Anna And The Apocalypse" is dedicated to the memory of Ryan McHenry, on whose short film it's based. He co-scripted and was going to direct but died of cancer at 27 before he got the chance, cut down in his prime, as are many of his characters, but reportedly joking to the end.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

CHRISTOPHER LEVEAUX: (As Chris) Oh, no.

HUNT: (As Anna) What?

LEVEAUX: (As Chris) Justin Bieber's a zombie.

MONDELLO: If you're looking for polish or sophistication from "Anna And The Apocalypse," you're chomping on the wrong neck. But the songs are bouncy, the performances fresh and the gore happily not in any way related to real life. You got to love that. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) 'Cause no one ever tells you when you're young - I want a love...

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.