Second only to Halloween, Christmas a holiday that fits perfectly with horror (more on that here). Between Black Christmas, Gremlins, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and many others, there’s no shortage of yuletide terror to keep horror fans satisfied during the Christmas season.
However none are quite as unique as 2017’s Anna and the Apocalypse. What started as a sleeper indie hit in the UK, has quickly become a cult classic. Why do fans love this Scottish zombie, Christmas, musical? Let’s take a musical deep dive and find out!
No matter how awesome a movie’s kills are, we’re only invested as much as we care about the characters. They don’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s more compelling to an audience if they’re flawed but relatable.
And it’s something that this movie does particularly well. Before the zombie threat begins, we’re introduced to a cast of characters whose struggles we can certainly feel. Anna is still struggling with the death of her mother, and as a result is pushing her father away, something she knows isn’t fair to him.
John is clearly in love with Anna, but knows that she doesn’t see him that way. Nick is forced to have a strong exterior, but stresses over the fear of exposing his vulnerabilities. And as Mr. Savage becomes more savage (for lack of a more on the nose term), we can see how years of working in education has withered away his sanity.
All of their struggles are ones that many of us have dealt with. None of them are perfect, and it makes us much more invested in their fates once the zombie horror begins.
The success of any movie musical relies heavily on how much we enjoy the songs. After all, if musical numbers are going to dominate many scenes, the songs themselves need to be fun, catchy, or compelling enough that we would want to listen to the soundtrack afterwards.
The initial goal of Anna and the Apocalypse was to make something akin to High School Musical, but with the genre subversion of zombies. Frankly, this description doesn’t do the film justice, because its songs are far better than anything from that Disney Channel original.
Its songs range from over the top Broadway caliber (“Hollywood Ending” and “Soldier at War”) to the emotional and poignant (“Human Voice” and “I Will Believe”), to the hilariously bizarre (“The Fish Wrap” and “It’s That Time of Year”). Not since Repo! The Genetic Opera has a horror musical’s songs been on equal par with the movie itself.
But of course, Anna and the Apocalypse wouldn’t be what it is without delivering on creative and fun zombie gore, most of which is done practically. There’s a particularly great practical head explosion involving bowling balls, along with a kiddie pool zombie defense and weapons like giant candy canes being used to fight them.
Surely at least one of these would have qualified for the coveted “Zombie Kill of the Week” award from Zombieland. It also explores the hilarious, but plausible concept of people taking selfies with zombies (which would definitely happen in today’s world), and the characters looking up which celebrities have and haven’t been infected.
There has certainly been a boom of zombie media in the last 10+ years and it’s the little touches like this that help this movie stand out.
So if you’re looking for some Christmas horror fun this season that isn’t one of the usual suspects, Anna and the Apocalypse will certainly do. It’s clever, fun, poignant, sincere, and has a kickass soundtrack I’ve been listening to since the movie came out!
What did you think of Anna and the Apocalypse? What are your favorite Christmas horror movies? Let us know in the comments!