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Review: Anna and the Apocalypse – “Takes all the twee elements of yuletide and musicals and spins them on its severed head”

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Often times, Christmas films that delve into the darker side of things (Die Hard, Gremlins, Lethal Weapon) are the most memorable and entertaining of the seasonal fare. This year, we’re gifted with Anna And The Apocalypse, a British zombie musical that takes all the twee elements of yuletide and musicals and spins them on its severed head.

With no easily-identifiable way of placing the film, AATA feels both universal and resoundingly English. It’s a brave mixture of tones – not only with its focus and originality but also with a cosmopolitan microcosm. There’s a bunch of variety in the film (and a multitude of accents), and when it works, it’s a sure-fire hit. However, it’s not always so; despite the zombie, musical, school-set environment of which there aren’t a plentiful amount, there’s a lot of standardised construction here.

Branching out as it does with musical numbers peppered here and there (which, by the way, are all fantastic – sure to be a cult album in itself), the journey the characters take aren’t as spontaneous. There’s a very clear path set up right from the start, with obvious hints to future set-pieces/events. The lack of surprise denies it a real freshness and it envelopes itself in a now all too familiar structure.

Still, for those who are wanting this kind of film, it’ll in no way disappoint. The gore is relatively plentiful, the band of outsiders are fun to follow, and the musical numbers are toe-tappingly excellent. “Cult hit” is a phrase sure to be banded around a lot with AATA, and it’s perfectly fitting. If marketing or PR only goes so far, there’s a reason to believe word-of-mouth will keep the film on its cinematic tracks until Home Ent delivers to other people’s doors.

It’ll be greeted with utter fondness, no doubt, as all the actors are so charming, singing along to some catchy hits. The eponymous Anna, played by Ella Hunt is a 21st Century icon, and sure to be Halloween costume favourite from now on. Hunt is extraordinary in the role, and insanely watchable. She conveys more emotion than you might expect from a smaller budgeted film such as this and elevates the film beyond its B-roll boundaries. Joining her side for so much of the film, too, is Malcolm Cumming, a sidekick character that really enjoys his own thread without overshadowing or underplaying to his supporting role standing.

The ensemble cast makes less of an impression but certainly adds to the charm of the film. It’s perhaps Paul Kaye’s over-acted Savage character that takes you out of the film, more so than a light bit of song and dance in an apocalyptic story.

Anna And The Apocalypse is a really fun night out at the cinema, and the original songs really upgrade it. Like most zombie flicks, it has a predictable narrative, and it’s not always as funny as it could be, but it’s definitely something that people should go see. UK horror films have a way of breaking the mould and reaching out to worldwide audiences, and Anna and The Apocalypse is certainly up there as a noteworthy addition.

Anna and the Apocalypse opens in cinemas on 30th November 2018.

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