John McPhail’s Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) provides a goofy-smile-on-your-face level of entertainment, whether you like Christmas movies, high-school musical comedies, zombie decapitations, or five-second-long arterial sprays.
The plot is simple enough. Anna Shepherd (Ella Hunt) contemplates her post-high school existence in dead-end industrial Scotland and negotiates a romantic triangle with best friend John (Malcom Cumming) and toxic hottie Nick (Ben Wiggins) as a zombie pandemic breaks out, right in time for Christmas, all through the idiom of the pop-rock production number.
It hasn’t quite stolen the crown of the horror musical from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), despite that it’s way more ambitious and that it does better justice to the horror component of the program. But there are long stretches of musical without any horror movie and long stretches of horror movie without any musical, and both halves feel a little short-changed in the end. We get an EP’s worth of songs and a relatively low body count (in raw numbers if not in impact).
Someday someone will crack the code, and we’ll witness the coming of the mature horror musical, with the horror and the musical in perfect proportion, running concurrently for the length of the film. In the meantime, go see this one twice.