The idea for the Alternative Christmas Film Advent Calendar (there’s probably a much simpler title out there) is simple; a film each day in the build up to Christmas that isn’t your standard Christmas film. Not like The Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf or Die Hard (that’s an argument for another day, or year), but one that might be set at Christmas but the holiday isn’t a major factor in the story of the film, or it’s simply mentioned a couple of times and made reference to throughout.
Today marks the day that makes this alternative advent calendar a trilogy. So, what better way to mark that than by opening the door to a completely unique and original film? The musical-comedy-horror-zombie apocalypse film that is Anna And The Apocalypse.
It’s highly likely that there isn’t, and may never will be, a film quite like Anna And The Apocalypse. A comedy musical set at Christmas during the zombie apocalypse, and that only just touches the surface. It sounds ridiculous, like something that was meant to be rejected by got put in the acceptance pile, totally bonkers and out there, as if it just won’t work. But, somehow it does, and it’s perhaps one of the most enjoyable Christmas films of recent years.
Following an ensemble cast, mostly playing students in their final year of school before going onto the next stage of their lives, whether it be work, university or something completely different the group seem to be, the film focuses on Ann (Ella Hunt), a girl with her own relationship troubles, despite not actually being in a relationship, alongside struggles with what she’s going to do with her future – her views contrasting with her father’s (Mark Benton). Meanwhile friend John (Malcolm Cumming) is struggling to tell Anna of his feelings for her, Chris (Christopher Leveaux) is being told that his film projects aren’t personal enough, Steph (Sarah Swire) is trying to get her social justice reporting past the heads of the school and Nick (Ben Wiggins), taking the form of the school bully, is simply making life harder for everyone. It sounds like your basic set-up for some musical numbers within a mild high-school comedy. Except, as already mentioned, this has zombies.
If anything the zombies help the film, leading it to be far from conventional, and thus far more interesting. There’s no denying that the inclusion of such a threat amongst modern musical numbers and teenage school dramas makes for an intriguing and creative blend. With it all set at Christmas the contrast of themes and genre makes for something utterly enjoyable. Helped by good performances, and a number of lively musical numbers (including a dirty Santa fantasy in a school hall and a teacher singing about his dislike for kids as all hell breaks loose, Mr Savage (Paul Kaye) being one of the true highlights of the film) there’s no denying that this is an apocalypse packed with energy.
One of the main review quotes that featured in much of the advertising for the film was “Shaun Of The Dead meets La La Land”, and in many ways this is a fair comment. The ‘average-person takes on zombies’ idea mixed with outbursts from characters to simply convey they’re inner emotions and feelings; with some equally enjoyable and energetic dance routines thrown in for good measure.
When it comes to how heavily Christmas features within the film, while some moments feature fairly heavy reference to the holiday, and while giant candy canes are used at times as defence weapons as a whole this could almost be a very similar film if it weren’t set at Christmas. Nonetheless somehow the group coming together in such a situation, mixed with the various chuckles that are raised over the relatively quick run-time, creates a mildly Christmassy vibe, likely sprouted due to the time of year the film is set, and the occasional references to the festive season.
There’s no denying that Anna And The Apocalypse is a potentially niche film, with a lot going on. However, it’s also undeniable that it’s a lot of fun and definitely very enjoyable. Highly entertaining and wonderfully unique it’s very much the definition of an alternative Christmas film.
Anna And The Apocalypse can be seen in the following places:
Or, on DVD, other physical film watching formats or potentially other streaming services and purchase platforms.